Thai Whole Fish

A whole cooked fish makes for a dramatic main course presentation and gives you and your guests the true “head-to-tail” experience.  One of my favorite preparations is to fry the fish in a wok, Thai-style, and top with Spicy Thai Sauce.  When choosing a fish, ask for it to be scaled and gilled and make sure that it will fit nicely in your wok.

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • Juice from one lime
  • Two garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (I like Red Boat Vietnamese fish sauce)
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped in a medium dice
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium whole fish (3-4 pounds) yellowtail snapper or other white fish, cleaned, scaled and gilled
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly torn or chopped, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

 Make the Thai sauce:

In a small sauce pan (or better yet, a saucier), heat soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, honey, ginger and fish sauce, along with about a third cup water, for about five minutes.  Let cool slightly, the puree in a food processor.  Return to sauce pan, add chopped red bell pepper and simmer for about ten minutes, until pepper is soft.

 Pat the fish until dry.  Rub with salt, pepper and chopped cilantro.  Dust very lightly with flour.  Heat a wok until smoking.  Swirl in canola oil to coat sides.  Fry fish, turning only once, until golden on both sides, about 12 minutes total.  Using a large fish spatula, carefully remove fish to a serving platter, top with Spicy Thai Sauce, scallion, and cilantro.  Serve immediately family style.

 Note:  To clean your wok, drain and sprinkle with salt.  After dinner, scrub with a soapless brush and dry over an open flame.

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