The sweet-and-sour sauce made for this dish is dramatically different from the cantonese versions, with its fruity tomato paste sauce. Here, the sauce is made from sugar and Chinking vinegar, with the flavors of ginger, garlic and spring onion. In Sichuan, this dish would be made with carp; here I’ve used whiting instead.

The same sauce can be used to dress deep-fried chicken or tofu.


  • 9 oz. white fish filet, such as whiting
  • 2 scallion whites, cut into very fine slivers
  • good pinch fresh red chili, slivered very fine
  • 2 cups cooking oil
  • 2 tbsps cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp finely choped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsps scallion greens, finely sliced
  • For the marinade/batter
    • 2 tsps Shaosing wine or dry sherry
    • tsp salt
    • 1 small egg, beaten
    • 4 tbsps potato starch
    • ½ tsp cooking oil
  • For the sauce
    • 5 tbsps sugar
    • ½ tbsp light soy sauce
    • 2 tbsps Chinkiang vinegar
    • ¾ tsp salt
    • 1-¼ tsps potato starch
    • 5 tbsps chicken stock, or water


1. Lay the fish, skin-side down, on a board. Holding your knife at an angle to the board, cut the fillet into slices about 1/8 in (1/2 cm) thick and place in a bowl. For the marinade, add the Shoaxing wine and salt and mix well. Then mix in the egg and potato starch to evenly coat. Finally, add the oil. In a separate bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce. Set the spring onion whites and chili slivers to soak in cold water (this will make them curl up prettily).

2. Heat the 2 cups plus 2 tbsp oil in a seasoned wok over a high flame to about 350˚. Use chopsticks to drop half the fish slices into the oil, taking care they don’t stick together. Deep-fry until lightly golden. Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining slices. Pile up all the fish slices on a serving dish.
3. Drain off all but 2 tbsp oil, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry briefly until they smell wonderful. Give the sauce a stir and our it into the wok, stirring as it thickens. Add the spring onion greens, mix well and then pour over the waiting fish. Sprinkle with the drained slivered spring onion whites and chili, and serve.


VARIATION - Fish-fragrant fish “tiles”: Pour over a fish-fragrant sauce (see Fish-Fragrant Eggplant) instead of the sweet-and-sour one here, for a Sichuanese flavor.
VARIATION - Salt-and-pepper fish “tiles”: Instead of a sauce, serve the deep-fried fish with a dip of three parts of salt mixed with one part of ground roasted Sichuan pepper.




Chinese, fish


Fuchsia Dunlop


2 servings




Asian : East Asian : Szechuan