Lighter and fruitier than its Chinese ancestor, the sauce of this Vietnamese-style sweet and sour fish is made with lime juice and not thickened with starch.

Vietnamese-style Sweet and Sour Fish

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Vietnamese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 3 people
Author Connie Veneracion


For the sauce

  • 2 bird's eye chilies
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 one-inch knob ginger grated
  • juice of two limes or lemons if lime is not available
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)
  • 1 onion thinly sliced

To cook the fish

  • 3 large fish steaks
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • cooking oil for deep frying

To garnish


Make the sauce

  • In a small sauce pan, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce except the onion.
  • Pour in a quarter cup of water. Boil the sauce just until the sugar is melted. Taste. If you want a different balance between sweet and sour, add more sugar or lime juice. If the sauce is too strong for you, stir in more water.
  • Off the heat, stir in the sliced onion. Set aside.

Cook the fish

  • Rinse the fish steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with starch; shake off excess.
  • In a frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least two inches.
  • Deep fry the fish steaks until golden and crisp. Scoop out and arrange on a serving plate.

Assemble the dish

  • Ladle the sauce over the fried fish.
  • Garnish with lime or lemon slices, scallions, chili and cilantro.
  • Serve immediately.