Sweet and Spicy Crispy Fish- alternative to the classic Spicy Thai Fish, my version is healthier and easier.

Sweet and Spicy Crispy Fish

This is my twist on the traditional Thai dish where an entire fish is deep fried and glazed with a sweet and sour sauce. Instead of deep frying I keep the fish fillets crisp by using panko bread crumbs and pan-frying. Instead of using a lot of cornstarch and artificial additives, I use fresh ingredients for the tomato sauce. This boldly flavored sauce is filled with the powerful antioxidants from garlic and the lycopene from tomatoes. Explosive flavors liven the mildness of tilapia fish. Sweet and Spicy Crispy Fish will be a staple for any household that loves fish.

Serves 4

8 Tilapia fillets (substitute grouper) rinsed and patted dry with paper towel
8 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon for sauce
12 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, diced
8 inch stalk lemongrass, minced
10 kafir lime leaves (substitute 1 1/2 Tablespoons grated lime peel)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large tomato, diced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons spicy chili sauce
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/3 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 eggs & 1 white, whisked lightly
Juice of 1/4 lime
Chopped cilantro for garnish


In a medium sized pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on high heat. Sauté garlic, onion, lemongrass and lime leaves until fragrant, for just about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and tomato; stir well, lower to medium heat.

Add the fish sauce, chili sauce, sweet chili sauce and sugar; stir and simmer for 10 minutes continuing to stir occasionally.

Mix the cornstarch with cold water and add 3 tablespoons of the mixture into tomato sauce; stir well. Turn heat to medium low and continue to simmer gently, stirring every few minutes.

Combine the panko crumbs, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper thoroughly.

In a large non-stick skillet heat the remaining vegetable oil on medium high. Dredge the fish through the egg wash then coat well on both sides in the panko mixture. Pan-fry the fish approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Set fish on serving platter and ladle the tomato sauce over fish; garnish with chopped cilantro.