Sweet and Sour Fish

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Cook up this classic restaurant-styled Chinese sweet and sour fish dish which comes with an amazing recipe for a gastronomic Cantonese-inspired sweet and sour sauce! Quick and easy to prepare, and immensely versatile, this dish can be a quick weekday meal or your favourite weekend indulgence!

In Chinese cuisine, there are many sweet and sour dishes which are differentiated by regions or areas in China where these originate, or by dialect clan – for example, Cantonese, Hainanese, Szechuan, and so on. I am always amazed at how these taste distinctly different from each other, but are all so flavourful and are, in essence, authentic sweet and sour flavours.

The Cantonese are well known for their fine cuisine, and undoubtedly, when it comes to sweet and sour dishes, I think most of us have indelible impressions of the Cantonese version, which tends to be delightfully more sweet than sour.


Needless to say, there are so many good, and great, recipes one can try. Having experimented with many, I have stuck with just one or two recipes over the years. Here is one that you can start with – this is my go-to recipe for any dish – pork, fish, prawns or even tofu – that calls for a sweet and sour sauce. 

I think what makes this fabulous is the use of a premium quality plum sauce, like that which you pour into, and toss with raw fish and grated  vegetables in Yu Sheng, a specialty dish served at many Chinese New Year festive gatherings. 
The warm flavours of the plum sauce, combined with the citrus undertones of lemon juice and honey-like sweetness of brown sugar, adds breadth and depth of flavours, offsetting the tartness of the tomato and chilli sauces. The result is a perfectly balanced sweet and sour sauce. 

In preparing sweet and sour fish, I always use fresh red snapper, though commonly, garoupa or grouper is often used. Not all fish are suitable, taste-wise, with sweet and sour sauce. Usually, white-fleshed fish with very subtle or mild flavours are good options.

4.67 from 9 votes
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Sweet and Sour Fish

Cook up this classic restaurant-styled Chinese sweet and sour fish dish which comes with an amazing recipe for a gastronomic Cantonese-inspired sweet and sour sauce! Quick and easy to prepare, and immensely versatile, this dish can be a quick weekday meal or your favourite weekend indulgence!
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Main Dish, Sauces & Jams, Seafood
Cuisine: Asian, Cantonese, Chinese
Servings :3 persons
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
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  • 300 g Red Snapper fillet, cleaned
  • 3 - 4 tbsp corn flour, or more as needed
  • Enough vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 red pepper,
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 50 g canned pineapple

For the Sweet-Sour Sauce:

  • 5 tbsp tomato sauce (Ketchup)
  • 3 tbsp plum sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Mix all sauce ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, set aside.
  • Clean and pat dry fish fillet paper towels. Slice into 5-mm thick slices. Coat fish slices thoroughly in corn flour, shake off the excess flour and discard. Set aside.
  • Peel and dice onion. Seed and dice peppers, tomato and pineapple.
  • Fill a wok to 1/4 depth with oil and heat up till hot. Fry the fish in two batches, constantly stirring and separating fish slices in hot oil with a wok chan or stainless steel ladle. Deep fry till fish slices turn golden brown and just begin to crisp at the edges. Remove, drain onto paper towels. Let oil heat up again, before frying the second batch.
  • Pour out oil, leaving 2 to 3 tbsp in the wok and heat up over medium fire. When hot, add diced onion and peppers, fry for about a minute. Add diced pineapple and tomato, stir fry for another 15 to 20 seconds, then add the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add 2 to 3 tbsp water (the sauce should still be slightly thick and sticky, not watery), stir quickly to mix well. Put in fried fish slices all at once, quickly toss for another 20 seconds to coat fish all over with sauce. Turn off heat, dish out onto serving plate. Serve immediately.
Did you make this? Share it on Instagram!I'd love to see! Don't forget to mention @foodelicacy or tag #foodelicacy so we can drool with you!



  1. how match calories for this meal

  2. Hi Shareen, that’s wonderful to hear and I’m so thrilled you and your family enjoyed this! Thank you so much for giving this recipe your 5 stars!

  3. I was able to do it and my family thought it was takeout from a restaurant. THANK YOU so much for sharing this recipe.

  4. Hi Cassandra, you can leave out the plum sauce, though the taste of the sauce will be much more full bodied and flavourful with the plum sauce added, so it would make quite the difference.There isn’t really a good substitute for plum sauce, in my humble opinion. Hope this helps!

  5. is it okay to leave out the plum sauce? is there any substitute for it?

  6. Hi Yulica, thank you for writing in! Yes, the recipe is as written, and what I do is deep fry till the fish slices brown evenly and crisp up. It also may not brown evenly if it’s not evenly coated with corn flour. Hope this helps!

  7. Yulica Foo Hirayama

    Is the recipe Complete? I used just cornflour and it says I have to fry till golden brown. I’ve test fried one slice and it doesn’t turn golden brown at all..

  8. Hi! It usually takes me about 40 mins, from start to finish. My apologies for not including the time, as this was a much older post, but it’s now indicated. Many thanks for writing in!

  9. may i know what is the time taken to make this dish?

  10. Hi Oy Len, oh I’m sure you absolutely can do it! I hope you’ll like it!

  11. Hi Celia, your sweet and sour fish looks so very yummeeeee.
    Think I can do it – your instructions are so clear.

  12. Thank you, Fern! Hope you’ll enjoy it!?

  13. This looks so good! Can’t wait to try it out 🙂

  14. Hello Ace! Thank you so much for sharing!? I’m so happy to hear that you and your family enjoyed this dish. You deserve all the credit for preparing and cooking it so well! Please keep sharing when you try the recipes here, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Happy cooking! Cheers, Celia

  15. I tried this recipe, and its very good.. Tnx for sharing this.. My family love it.. ??

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