Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry

Sweet and Sour Fish is a very popular dish in China, and it’s almost always served as a whole fish. The dish tends to be quite expensive, as it’s usually straight out of a live fish tank and served with a pretty fancy presentation.

While I’m working on the recipe for the banquet-style whole sweet and sour fish, today I’m sharing this easier version: Sweet and Sour Fish Fillets, using readily available fish fillets fried in a crispy batter.

This Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish dish is similar to another classic Americanized dish, Sweet and Sour Pork. (Head over to that recipe if you’re not a fan of fish). Is there anything better than the texture combination of crispy fried stuff coated in thick sweet and sour sauce?

A Couple Ways to Tackle This Recipe

Another alternative to cutting the fish fillet into pieces is to fry up the whole fillet (if you’re looking for cooking times, you can check out our beer batter fish fry recipe that we blogged on a camping trip a couple years ago).

There are fewer steps, and it makes for a nice presentation, though less surface area for that fried batter! The decision is yours…

However you choose to prepare it, I am certain you will thoroughly enjoy this dish. So head for the kitchen and make this Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet a reality!

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Sweet and Sour Fish Fillets: Recipe Instructions

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Make sure your fish fillet is clean and pat dry to ensure your fried fish gets really crispy. Heat 3 cups of oil in a small pot (to conserve oil) to 380 degrees F. You can use a thermometer or check the temperature by putting a drop of batter into the oil. The batter should not turn brown right away.  Instead, it should rise immediately to the surface and turn a very light golden brown.

To make the batter, mix together all the dry ingredients––the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, turmeric powder, and white pepper. When you’re ready to fry, mix in the sesame oil and cold seltzer water until the batter is smooth.

Next, drop the fish fillets into the batter. Ensure they are evenly coated, but allow the excess to drip off (if there’s too much batter on the fish, you’ll end up with dough balls!). Carefully place the fish into the oil one piece at a time, ensuring that they don’t stick to each other. Fry in batches so that the fish pieces aren’t overcrowded, frying for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Scoop the fried fish out and transfer to a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet to drain. Repeat until all the fish has been fried.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Next, put two teaspoons of the frying oil in a separate wok or skillet over high heat, and toss in the onions, and peppers.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Stir-fry for 30 seconds, and then stir in the ketchup. Fry for another 20 seconds––frying the ketchup brings out the color and makes for a better depth of flavor in the sweet and sour sauce.

Mix in the pineapple, pineapple juice, red wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, and bring the liquid to a low simmer for 2 minutes.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

With the sweet and sour sauce still simmering, slowly stir in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.

For more detailed information on the many ways to use cornstarch to get authentic results at home with our recipes, see our post on How to Use Cornstarch in Chinese Cooking.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

At this point, if the fried fish fillets have softened, you can refry them in the oil heated to 400F for 30 seconds in larger batches. The higher heat is needed because the oil will cool immediately after putting in a larger batch of fish in the oil.

Once the fish is ready, toss it into the wok, and fold into the sauce with 3 or 4 scooping motions until the pieces are lightly coated. Plate and serve immediately!

Sweet and Sour Fish Fillets, by thewoksoflife.comSweet and Sour Fish Fillets, by thewoksoflife.com

For the best results, this Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet stir-fry should be cooked and finished right before ringing the dinner bell! Chefs all over Chinatown restaurant kitchens are screaming to the waiters to get this dish onto guest’s tables just as soon as it’s out of the wok. Do yourself a favor and do the same at home!

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Enjoy every bite of tender and tangy sweet and sour fish fish fillet!

Chinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comChinese Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

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