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Jun 16, 2016

Crispy Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Sauce

Let me warn you, this Crispy Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Sauce is not necessarily pretty. However, it is completely freaking amazing!

Crispy Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Sauce from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This month, the theme for the Fish Fridays Foodies group is Fried Fish. We could do deep or pan fried. I have a delicious and elegant pan fried halibut filet recipe with zucchini that I've never posted.. buuuuut.... I tend to be distracted by shiny things....

After my first experience making my first whole fish for this post, I thought I'd try frying a whole fish. I don't know why, because I am typically terrified by deep frying, and I hate throwing out so much oil.

This fish is worth all of the hassle. It is so succulent and moist, and just crazy good.

Crispy Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Sauce on a platter.

This fish is briefly marinated in a mixture of ginger, sugar, and sesame oil, which is rubbed all over the fish. It is then brushed with a flour, cornstarch, and baking soda coating, and then fried in a couple of inches of hot oil. Once it's fully cooked, it's drenched with a delicious ginger scallion sauce.

I found this amazing Asian supermarket loaded with fish tanks full of live fish (I am totally in love with this place). You tell them how you want it prepared based on a number. "Number one" means you just want it cleaned. There are also numbers two through six. 

The sign is in various languages, with an illustration of the various options. You can see the sign hanging above the fishmonger's head in the photo below. There are also bins of live crustaceans and fish on ice, for which I haven't quite figured out the etiquette and process.

Crispy Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Sauce from Karen's Kitchen Stories

I took my number, ordered my fish, and then watched the guy fish it out of the tank and throw it on the floor. At this point, I looked away. He then took it over to the counter that you can see here and cleaned it.

Here's my fish with the sesame oil and ginger marinade...

Crispy Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Sauce from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Would you like to join Fish Friday Foodies? We post and share new seafood/fish recipes on the third Friday of the month. To join our group please email Wendy at our Facebook page and Pinterest page for more wonderful fish and seafood recipe ideas.

Did I mention that this fish was ridiculously tasty? It was soooo good!

Crispy Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Sauce

Serves two



1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth/stock
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 finely chopped scallion


1 1/2 pound whole tilapia, cleaned
2 1/8 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon oil
Oil for frying


To make the sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. 
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a minute. 
  3. Add the chicken stock, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the fish:

  1. Make three cuts across the body of the fish on both sides as illustrated in the photo above. The cuts should be almost down to the bone. 
  2. Combine two teaspoons of the salt with the ginger, sugar, and sesame oil. Rub the mixture all over the fish, both inside and outside.
  3. Stuff the fish cavity with the scallion pieces.  Let marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. 
  4. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, water, oil, and the rest of the salt in a bowl. Brush both sides of the fish with the mixture. 
  5. Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees F in a wok or a Dutch oven. 
  6. Add the fish to the oil, and fry for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the fish over, and fry for 6 to 7 minutes more. 
  7. Place the fish on a paper towel lined platter to drain. Enjoy!
Recipe slightly adapted from Everyday Chinese Cookbook

Check out the rest of the #FishFridayFoodies fried fish posts. 

Would you like to comment?

  1. I've always been turned off at the thought of cooking a whole fish, but it doesn't look bad at all. And that sauce sounds yummy!

    1. Thanks April! It was so tasty, but I have been dreading posting this!

  2. How wonderful to have such a place to get the freshest fish ever! Made me homesick for places I used to have around my neighborhood in Sao Paulo... (well, homesick for a few seconds, I am glad to be away from the stress of that place - no need to tell that to my friends and family, ok? ;-)

    Great recipe! I am not too fond of frying, as you know, but would love to try a bite or ten of your beautiful tilapia

    1. Ha ha. With our terrible traffic, we have some of the best ethnic markets here. I'm not a big fan of frying either, but this fish was not oily at all.

  3. A delicious sauce to go with the whole fish.

  4. I think I will make this for Tingting one night and surprise her with an authentic Chinese fried fish.

    1. I'm pretty sure she will love it. I sure did!

  5. It sounds yummy...especially after you cut the head off! I'm a little squeamish about that...but I love anything fried so I'm willing to overlook it!

    1. Yes. Well.... it took me a while to get used to the head too!

  6. Karen, that looks beyond gorgeous! Thanks for sharing it with #FishFridayFoodies.

  7. Wow! Looks like an awesome market - lucky! I have yet to cook a whole fish - you are braver than I. It's the whole head thing . . . Why???

    Sounds delicious though!

    1. Yes, the head thing kind of creeps people out, including my husband! BUT, he loved this fish =)

    2. BTW Cathy, this market is huge, you can always find parking (unlike 99Ranch), and the produce is not wrapped in plastic!

    3. Ugghh, produce wrapped in plastic drives me crazy, more than the parking issue! Lol.

  8. Karen I love your make. Whole fish deep fried sounds scary to me too. I'd be scared or burning my skin with any kind of splatter. But it looks amazing and crispy. I am not taken aback with the look of your fish head either. Its the ones that seems bland cooked that makes me disinterested. Fish head has a lot of flavour going! So adding it on means pumping up the volume of your flavour. So I can imagine how good your fish make is!Yours has a lovely colour all over too. Great going on pushing through your fears and making this fabulous fish. Also I love the way you strategically covered the fish eye with the scallion :D

    1. :D I actually used a splatter guard, which helped a lot, but I was still nervous. Thanks so much such nice feedback!

  9. So the only whole fish I've ever fried was shrimp, but this looks amazing and I'd love to try it. Just have to get one of my fishing buddies to save me a whole fish, hmmm. Or catch it myself? Nah... I'd love to try this. Frying doesn't faze me at all, I wish it did.

  10. Wow, what a cool place! I'll have to take my husband here as my "security blanket", he's braver and more adventurous than I. Kudos to frying a whole fish - it's beautiful.


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