Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet is a popular dish in the Philippines. It’s one of the most common courses served in Filipino dining tables during special events and occasions.
Here’s a very easy-to-follow sweet and sour fish fillet recipe shared by Cooking Like A Pro .
Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet
FOR THE FISH:
- 12 ounces cod fillet 340g, rinsed clean, pat dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 cups canola oil for frying
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- ⅔ cup cold seltzer or club soda
FOR THE SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE:
- ¼ cup red onion
- cut into a 1-inch dice
- ¼ cup red bell peppers cut into a 1-inch dice
- ¼ cup green bell peppers cut into a 1-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 3/4 cup canned pineapple chunks
- ¾ cup pineapple juice from the can
- 2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed into a slurry with 2 tablespoons water
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- Next, put two teaspoons of the frying oil in a separate wok or skillet over high heat, and toss in the onions, and peppers. 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. With the sweet and sour sauce still simmering, slowly stir in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.
- 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!
Tips and Tricks
Tips for Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet
Here are some of my top tips for making the best sweet and sour fish fillet at home:
- Choose a sturdy white fish – I prefer a firm, white fish like tilapia or cod that won’t fall apart when battered and fried. Stay away from more delicate fish like sole or flounder.
- Make the batter light – A batter made with flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and cold water fries up deliciously crispy and puffy. The baking powder is key for maximum crispness.
- Fry in batches – Don’t crowd the pan when frying. Fry the battered fish in batches for even cooking.
- Toss the sauce – Cook the sauce then add the fried fish and gently toss to coat. Be careful not to break up the fish.
- Use pineapple chunks – Pineapple adds extra sweetness and a tropical twist. Other veggies like bell peppers and onions are also classic.
- Serve over rice – Steamed white rice or stir fried noodles are the perfect accompaniments. The rice soaks up the tasty sauce!
Cooking Tips and FAQs
Can I use frozen fish? Yes, frozen fish fillets work well. Just thaw them overnight in the fridge before battering.
What if I don’t have pineapple? Bell peppers and onions will still be tasty. Or try mango or apple chunks.
Can I use chicken instead? You can, though you’ll miss the soft flaky texture of fish. Adjust cooking time.
How long does it keep? Store leftovers in the fridge up to 3 days. The sauce keeps 2 weeks. Reheat in the microwave.
Sweet and sour fish fillet is a complete meal on its own but here are some tasty sides I like to pair it with:
- Steamed jasmine or sticky rice
- Stir fried noodles or pancit
- Steamed broccoli or asparagus
- Cucumber salad
- Egg rolls
A squeeze of fresh lemon or calamansi juice over the fish gives it an extra zing. Enjoy this saucy, sweet and tangy fish dish for a taste of the Philippines any night of the week! It’s become a favorite around the world for good reason.
Over the years, I’ve honed my sweet and sour pork and fish recipe to create my ideal balance of flavors. I use simple pantry ingredients like ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, and cornstarch thickened into a glossy sauce. A combo of bell peppers, onions, and pineapple gives it a pop of color and freshness. It comes together quickly for a meal we never get tired of.