Food: Whole Fish Fried and Steamed

Honestly I cannot figure out what to name this fish preparation. I can tell you that it is super quick. And yes it is fried at first. But then it is steamed with a spicy tangy onion sauce. 

Any type of white fish will be good for this recipe, not just Bass. White fish is good for this recipe because the fish needs to absorb all the spicy tangy goodness from the onion sauce inside it. 

The fish needs to be whole, head and tail intact. It definitely needs to be clean with the fins and tail trimmed. After washing, the fish needs to be dried thoroughly. Use a paper towel to pat dry it even more. 

Drying is important because as soon as the fish meets the hot oil, any excess water will splatter and delay the crisp frying process. 

Once the fish is dried. Make angled cuts on both side of the fish. This is to make sure the sauces reach the insides of the fish throughly. 

Use a large wide flat pan for this recipe. You will use the same pan for making the onion sauce later. 

Fry the fish to crispness on both sides. I often take a spoon and pick up the hot oil in the pan to pour over the inside and the head of the fish. This is to ensure the hot oil reaches everywhere. Take the fish out into a dish where the dish will be served. Any rectangular casserole dish will do. 

While the fish is frying, thinly slice all the ingredients and keep them aside. Blend the green chilies as well. 

Have everything handy because the onion sauce cooks fast. 

Once the fish is out of the frying pan, use the same oil and the pan to make the sauce. Add more oil if needed. Toss in the sliced onions, ginger and garlic into the hot oil. 

Cook and toss till the onions are translucent. This will not take long. Don’t skimp on using this large amount of onion, ginger and garlic. The onion sauce will steam the fried fish, and we need double the flavor for it to even out when it meets the fish. Kind of like a marinade. 

Once the onions are translucent, and you can smell the three ingredients all over your kitchen, hike up that smell more by pouring in the two types of soy sauces. Use good quality soy sauce. Trust me, it makes a huge difference. 

I pour in the regular soy sauce first. And then I go for the dark soy sauce. Make sure to shake up the dark soy sauce bottle before pouring. 

Add the green chili paste. Make sure to use as much per your taste. I usually make this dish very hot. Sometimes if the green chilies are not hot enough, I add more of the paste. 

Then comes the tamarind paste. Along with the heat I like to make this dish very tangy. And always remember that the flavors in the sauce are doubled because it needs to meet the fish to level off. If you make this sauce just right the dish will be a little bland, because the fish is waiting in the other dish. And the fish has no seasoning in it. So this onion sauce will need be extra salty, extra tangy, and extra hot!

Now add the rice vinegar…we are almost done! At this point check to see if you need to adjust the salt. If it tastes too tangy, then add some sugar. 

It is time for the scallions. Notice that the sauce looks almost done. But have patience and keep cooking. 

Mix in the scallions well. The oil will star to rise above the sauce at this point. 

Here is a close up of the oil separating. All the water has evaporated leaving the sauce oily and sticky and perfect. Not to watery and not too dry. 

Using a spatula and a spoon lay the sauce over the entire fish. Tuck some sauce inside the folds and inside the head. Don’t miss a spot. After the sauce is poured over, sprinkle sliced green chilies or habanero over the sauce. This will add flavor and more heat!

Have the foil paper ready so that you can cover the fish immediately retaining and trapping the heat inside. The steam from the heat will make the fish soak in all that tangy juicy spicy onion sauce.

Leave it covered for at least an hour before serving the fish. To avoid reheating it, keep it inside a warm oven. Find this dish in my Instagram story highlight with! 


  1. My mum taught me something similar to this but this is a bit different. Anyway, its always nice to learn more. This looks good. Thanks for sharing and for your time.


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