This sweet and sour fish is quick and easy to make. The fish is lightly breaded without egg, pan-fried to crispy perfection, then covered with flavourful sweet and sour sauce. Ready in under 30 minutes!
Sweet and sour is one of the popular dishes in Asian and Western cuisines. It has many variations and methods of cooking.
My version of sweet and sour fish is made of tilapia fillet or you may use whole tilapia or any fish you like.
Sweet and Sour Fish Ingredients
Fish– tilapia fillet, Basa fillet, haddock, cod, or any neutral-flavored fish with white lean flesh is ideal for sweet and sour fish. You may use whole fish for this recipe. To fry the whole fish, check my Crispy Fried Tilapia with Sauteed Tomatoes.
Breading– this breading is similar to fish and chips. I like it lightly breaded so I didn’t use eggs. It’s made of cornstarch dissolved in white wine for depth of flavor and it helps to crisp up the fish. You may substitute the white wine with beer or for non-alcoholic- soda water or clear soda. Then dredge into all-purpose flour with the seasoning salt or you may use old bay seasoning.
For the Sweet and sour sauce ingredients– the key here is to perfectly balance the sweet and tangy taste.
Tomato ketchup– can be substituted with tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes. However, you will need to adjust or add more sugar to taste.
Rice wine vinegar– or substitute with apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or 100% pineapple juice.
Sugar– granulated sugar, yellow or brown sugar, or substitute with honey.
Vegetable broth– or substitute with water
For the vegetables– garlic, onion, and ginger are the base flavors for sweet and sour sauce. The addition of bell peppers; elevates the flavor.
How to make Sweet and Sour Fish
If using frozen fish (tilapia) fillet. Thaw it overnight in the fridge is ideal. However, If short of time, you may thaw it in cold water. Then pat dry with a paper towel. Season the fish with salt and pepper or seasoning salt.
Meanwhile, prepare the breading for the fish and heat the oil in the frying pan. Mix flour and seasoning salt in a shallow dish. Dredge the tilapia in flour with seasoning.
In a separate shallow dish, dissolve cornstarch with white wine. Dip in the white wine and cornstarch mixture, then dredge again in flour with seasoning.
Over medium-high heat, fry each side of the fish for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to remove excess oil then transfer to a serving plate.
To make the sweet and sour sauce. Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a frying pan or you may use a tablespoon of the oil from frying the fish. Saute onion, ginger, and garlic for about a minute or until fragrant then add bell peppers. Stir fry for a minute, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 3 minutes or until thickened. You may add slurry (cornstarch dissolved in water) if you want to thicken it more or add extra sauce.
Pour the sweet and sour sauce on the fried fish then garnish with chopped scallion or green onion. Serve with rice.
Sweet and Sour Fish (Tilapia Fillet)
Watch How to Make It
- frying pan
- 3 tilapia fillets sliced in half, seasoned with salt and pepper or seasoning salt
- 3 Tbsp white wine substitute with soda water
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ cup flour
- ½ tsp seasoning salt
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil for sauteeing, ½ cup for frying
For the sweet and sour sauce
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger sliced
- 1 onion or shallot sliced
- ½ red bell pepper sliced
- ½ green bell pepper sliced
- ½ cup tomato ketchup
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar or pure pineapple juice
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Salt or fish sauce to taste
- black pepper ground
- 2 tbsp scallion sliced diagonally
- Season the tilapia fillet with salt and pepper or seasoning salt.
- Mix flour and seasoning salt in a shallow dish. Dredge the tilapia in flour with seasoning.
- In a separate shallow dish, dissolve cornstarch with white wine. Dip in the white wine and cornstarch mixture, then dredge again in flour with seasoning.
- Fry each side of the tilapia for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a frying pan. Saute onion, ginger and garlic for about a minute or two, then add bell peppers. Stir fry for a minute, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 3 minutes.
- Pour the sweet and sour sauce on the fried tilapia and garnish with chopped scallion. Serve it with rice.