Just when I thought that my well of ideas for serving fried fish had dried up, the beloved formula of combining kangkong and bird's eye chili came to mind. It's a combination one often finds with partnered with pork (think lechon con kangkong) but I figured that there was no reason it shouldn't work with fish too.

Fried whole fish with chili kangkong (swamp spinach)

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Connie Veneracion


  • 1 whole labahita or your fish of choice, about 800 g., gutted and cleaned
  • salt
  • cooking oil for deep frying
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or corn starch
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 bird’s eye chili finely sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped kangkong stalks
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 generous pinch sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • drizzle sesame seed oil


  • Rinse the fish and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  • Score the fish (see how) and rub liberally with salt, pushing the salt into the slits.
  • Pour enough cooking oil in a frying pan to reach a depth of at least three inches. Heat the oil until wisps of smoke float on the surface.
  • Dredge the fish in starch and deep fry until crisp and browned, flipping it over when the underside is nicely browned. Scoop out the fish and arrange on a platter.
  • Pour off the oil leaving only a tablespoonful.
  • Saute the onion, garlic and chili with a bit of salt and pepper, until softened and aromatic, about three to five minutes.
  • Add the kangkong, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, and sugar. Stir fry until done, about three minutes.
  • Pour in the oyster sauce. Stir fry for another 10 seconds. Turn off the heat. Drizzle in the sesame seed oil. Toss.
  • Spoon the chili kangkong on top or beside the fried whole fish. Serve at once.