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Thai Sweet and Sour Chili Fish Fillets Recipe

Updated on May 31, 2010

Here’s a delicious Thai dish that although uses a number of chilies, isn’t all that spicy.

Thai Sweet and Sour Chili Fish Fillets

  • 1 lb of sea bass fillets, or any other sweet firm fleshed white fish (Grouper, Tilapia, Cod, halibut, mahi mahi, etc., sprinkled with salt all over
  • 2 Tbls of tamarind water (To get tamarind ‘juice’ either buy it ready made in a jar, or buy tamarind as it is sold in sticky cubes and soak a bit in an equal amount of water for about 5 minutes. The water will become a sour tamarind flavored juice that can be used in cooking. Make a little more than you think you’ll need, so you can use it to adjust seasoning at the end if necessary
  • 4 Tbls of white sugar
  • 3 Tbls of fish sauce
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 6 Thai bird chilies, finely minced – this will make for a medium spicy dish, although because the sauce is quite sweet, the heat is somewhat tempered. Use less chili if you don’t care for spice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup of thinly sliced red onion
  • Oil for deep frying
  • ½ cup of water


  1. Sprinkle a little salt over all of the fish fillets
  2. Heat some oil for deep frying to about 360f (Enough oil to completely cover the fish fillets as they fry)
  3. When the oil has come to temperature, pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels (To prevent splattering) and then slide the fish into the oil. Do only enough as will comfortably fit in the oil in one batch. If you add too much, the oil temperature will drop too much and you risk oily fish. Cook for 7 or 9 minutes, turning about occasionally, or until golden brown and cooked very well throughout.
  4. To make the sauce, add about 1 Tbls of vegetable oil to a medium hot frying pan and then add in the onion, garlic and chili all at once.
  5. Cook this stir frying for about 1 minute and then add the tamarind water, the water, the fish sauce, the sugar and salt – and bring it to a boil.
  6. Boil until it reaches a sauce like consistency and then taste for seasoning, adding more tamarind, sugar or salt as needed.
  7. Serve the fish fillets with the sauce poured over the top and garnish the plate with cilantro leaves and sprigs.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice as a part of a larger Thai style dinner.



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    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      fresh is better for this one - but any fresh hot pepper will work fine - Serrano peppers, or the slightly larger spicy Thai chilies. You just have to adjust the amount you add depending on the spiciness of the pepper.

    • profile image

      Barb Lee 7 years ago

      We had this for dinner last night and we liked it so much we went and bought more fish so we can have it tonight. I can not get the bird chilis at the grocery store and I wasn't sure which other chilis to substitute (we used a finger chili). Could I use dried or is another fresh chili better?

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thanks for the recipe. I just love good fish!

    • Simple Tim profile image

      Simple Tim 7 years ago

      Hmm sounds delicious! Tamarind and fish are a great combination!I once tasted a fish cury cooked with tamarind but the cook also added aubergines.Was the most delicious aubergines I've ever tasted!they soaked up the flavor of the fish an tamarind beautifully!