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Chinese Deep-Fried Fish with Spicy Black Bean Sauce

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 50 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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1 (2 to 3 pound) whole red snapper, cleaned and scaled

1 cup rice flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peanut oil, for frying

4 scallions, sliced thin

1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 serrano chile, sliced thin

1/2 cup fermented black beans*

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Cilantro leaves, for garnish


  1. Remove the head from the fish (or have your fishmonger do this) and cut the fish into 2-inch thick steaks. Put the rice flour on a plate and season it well with salt and pepper; dredge the fish pieces in the rice flour, shaking off any excess.
  2. In a deep pot or a wok large enough to hold the fish, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees F. Carefully put in the fish and deep-fry until it is browned, crisp, and cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the fish pieces and drain them on paper towels; place them onto a platter.
  3. Carefully drain all but 3 tablespoons of oil from the wok. Stir-fry the scallions, ginger, garlic, and chiles for about 2 minutes. Add the black beans and fry for another minute. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water making sure to get out all the lumps. Pour this slurry into the black bean mixture (it will thicken immediately) and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the fish pieces, garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve.

Cook’s Note

*Can be found at Asian markets and gourmet shops.

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