Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-Fry

March 7, 2023

The Chinese dish, Sweet and Sour Fish, can be pricey when prepared with a whole fish. However, you can enjoy the same delicious flavors with a more affordable and easier-to-prepare Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet Stir-Fry.

While I work on perfecting the recipe for whole fish prepared in the sweet and sour style for a banquet, here is a simpler method: Fried fish fillets in a sweet and sour sauce are the basis of this simple and delicious dish.

Similar to another popular Chinese dish adapted in the United States, Sweet, and Sour Pork, this one features fish instead of pork. Can anything top the satisfying crunch of deep-fried treats doused in a sticky sweet-and-sour sauce?

Some Variations on this Recipe

You can also fry the entire fillet (for timing purposes, refer to the beer batter fish fry recipe my husband and I blogged about when we went camping a few years ago) instead of cutting it into pieces.

Less work is required, and it presents well, but there needs to be more room to coat in batter and fry. It’s up to you to decide…

Whatever method you use to prepare it, I know you will love this dish. Make the trip to the kitchen and cook up a delicious Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet.


For the dish:

  • 12 oz. of cod fillet (340g, cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 3 cups of canola oil (for frying)
  • ¾ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. of cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. of salt
  • ⅛ tsp. of turmeric powder
  • ⅛ tsp. of white pepper
  • ¼ tsp. of sesame oil
  • ⅔ cup of cold seltzer

For the Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • ¼ cup of red onion (cut into a 1-inch dice)
  • ¼ cup of red bell peppers (cut into a 1-inch dice)
  • ¼ cup of green bell peppers (cut into a 1-inch dice)
  • 1 tbsp. of ketchup
  • 3/4 cup of canned pineapple chunks
  • ¾ cup of pineapple juice from the can
  • 2 ½ tbsp. of red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup of water
  • ¼ tsp. of salt
  • 2 tbsp. of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. of cornstarch (mixed into a slurry with 2 tablespoons water)


  1. Fry your fish fillet in oil that has been heated to a high temperature, and makes sure it is clean and dry before you start. To reduce waste, heat 3 cups of oil to 380 degrees Fahrenheit in a small pot.
  2. Drop batter into the oil or use a thermometer to determine the exact temperature. Avoid letting the batter brown too quickly. Instead, it must come to the surface immediately and turn a pale golden brown color.
  3. To make the batter, combine all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, turmeric, and white pepper) in a large mixing bowl. Just before frying, whisk in the cold seltzer water and sesame oil until the batter is uniform in texture.
  4. Once the batter is ready, add the fish fillets. Make sure they’re evenly coated, but don’t overdo it with the batter (you don’t want dough balls instead of fish). Individual fish pieces should be carefully dropped into the oil, so the fish doesn’t stick together. Do not crowd the pan while frying; fry the fish in batches for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Fish can be removed from the fryer and placed on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to drain. Fry the fish in batches until it’s all done.
  6. The next step is to heat a separate wok or skillet with two teaspoons of the frying oil and toss in the onions and peppers. After 30 seconds of stir-frying, add the ketchup and mix well.
  7. Keep frying for another 20 seconds to bring out the color and add depth of flavor to the sweet and sour sauce made with ketchup.
  8. Add the pineapple, pineapple juice, red wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let this cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Gently whisk in the cornstarch slurry while the sweet and sour sauce is still on low heat, and cook, constantly stirring, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.
  10. If the previously-fried fish fillets have softened, you can re-fry them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 seconds in larger batches. When frying more fish at once, the oil temperature drops rapidly, so you need to crank up the heat.
  11. Throw the fish into the wok once it’s done cooking, and use three or four scooping motions to gently fold it into the sauce until the fish is lightly coated. Arrange the food on plates and serve at once!
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