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+ servings
a whole fish cooked with sweet & sour sauce
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5 from 6 votes

Sweet and sour fish in 20 mins (糖醋鱼)

Chinese sweet and sour fish ready in 20 minutes. No deep-frying needed. Visually appealing and balanced in flavour.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Fish
Servings: 2
Author: Wei Guo


For the fish

  • 1 whole rainbow trout, , gutted and descaled about 600g, see note 1 for other options
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch or potato starch
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 stalk scallions chopped
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or white wine
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp white rice vinegar or cidre vinegar
  • tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 120 ml water ½ cup
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

You also need

  • Coriander, chopped


  • Use kitchen paper to dry the fish completely. Coat the fish with a thin layer of corn starch (see note 2).
  • Cut the fish at 45 degree angle several times on each side.
  • Add oil to a hot wok (or a frying pan). Place fish in the wok, then turn the heat down to medium. Flip it over when the first side is golden and firm. It takes roughly 2 mins for each side (see note 3).
  • While waiting for the fish to be fried, mix all the ingredients for the sauce.
  • When the second side is done, push the fish over to one side of the wok. Put scallions, ginger and garlic into the oil. Stir fry for half a minute or so.
  • Pour the sauce into the wok. Bring it to a boil then cover with a lid. Turn the heat to low. Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes each side. The sauce should be in a thick consistency at the end.
  • Scatter coriander shortly before dishing the fish out. Serve warm with plain rice.


1. Other whole fish, such as sea bass, sea bream, carp, are equally delicious for this recipe.
2. A layer of cornstarch will make the fish even drier. This reduces splashing while frying and helps the fish stay in shape. 
3. Remember to handle the fish only when it's necessary, especially if you are not using a non-stick cookware. This will prevent the flesh from falling apart.