Sweet and Sour Fish

Forget take out! This sweet and sour fish recipe is super easy to make yet so tasty. Bite-sized fish are fried to golden perfection and then tossed in a sweet, tangy, and sticky sauce with colorful bell peppers for a flavorful dish!

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Sweet and sour dishes trace their origin from Chinese cuisine with the original sweet and sour sauce said to have come from Hunan, a province in China. It was a combination of light vinegar and sugar and was initially used as a condiment or dipping sauce for meat and fish rather than cooking.

The traditional Filipino version uses whole fried fish, much like the escabeche. This recipe cuts tilapia fillets into bite-size pieces which are then lightly battered, deep-fried until golden and crisp, and then tossed in the sweet and tangy sauce called agre dulce with bell peppers and onions.

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What you’ll need

  • Fish– the recipe uses tilapia fillets as they’re meaty and relatively inexpensive. Any white fish with firm flesh such as catfish, cod, bass, or dory are also good options.
  • Soy sauce– marinates the fish to lend a savory boost of flavor
  • Flour and cornstarch– creates a golden, crispy crust
  • Beaten egg helps the breading stick
  • Oil– use oil with a neutral taste and high smoke point such as canola, safflower, grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • Bell Peppers adds color and texture. Feel free to use a mix of red and green bell peppers for more vibrant presentation
  • Pineapple Juice adds a fruity sweetness to the sauce
  • Rice Vinegar– type of vinegar made from fermented rice and has a mild and slightly sweet flavor. In a pinch, you can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute.
  • Ketchup– tomato ketchup was used in this recipe. If using banana ketchup (which is usually sweet), I suggest mixing the ingredients for the sauce together except the sugar and then add the sugar according to your preference.
  • Brown Sugar– has a less concentrated sweetness and contains molasses. If using white granulated sugar, adjust amount to taste
  • Cornstarch– thickens the sauce
  • Salt and pepper– season to taste

How to serve

  • You can finish off the sweet and sour fish in two ways. You can drizzle the sauce just before serving to keep the fried fish nice and crispy, or you can simmer them in the sauce to soak it up.

Storing leftovers

  • Store leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave until completely warmed through.
  • If you’re planning for future meals and want the best texture, you can make the sauce ahead of time and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Batter and fry the fish when ready to serve.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • canola oil

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