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Crisp-fried sea bass in sweet chilli sauce, with mango and mint salad

20 February 2012

This dish is what epitomises the Thai philosophy – hot, sour, salty, sweet: beautifully fresh, crispy fish served with chilli heat, mango sweetness, Thai fish sauce saltiness, and the sourness of fresh lime juice squeezed over. It’s also magnificent with bream, mackerel, or any other round fish

Crisp-fried sea bass in sweet chilli sauce, with mango and mint salad
Crisp-fried sea bass in sweet chilli sauce, with mango and mint salad

Preparation time


Cooking time





  • 30g cornflour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes
  • 1 litre sunflower oil, for deep-frying

For the chilli sauce:

  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 60g palm sugar or light muscovado sugar
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce

For the crispy garlic and shallots:

  • 60g shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

For the mango and mint salad:

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, stone removed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, leaves picked
  • 2 tbsp Thai holy basil (use regular basil if not available)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin strips using a potato peeler
  • Juice of 1 lime


1. First make the chilli sauce: put the vinegar, sugar and chilli into a small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 6 minutes, then remove and add the tamarind paste and fish sauce. The sauce should be a thick, sticky consistency. Set aside and keep warm.

2. Fillet the sea bass to make 4 fillets from the 2 fish. Put the cornflour in a shallow dish and stir in the salt and dried chilli flakes, and gently coat the sea bass fillets in this mix.

3. Pour 1 litre sunflower oil into a large wok or fryer, and heat to 180ºC. You can test when the oil is ready by dropping in a small piece of vegetable – if it sizzles, it’s ready. Slide the fish into the oil and fry for 6 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Lift out with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.

4. Make the crispy shallots and garlic: add the shallots to the oil and fry for 1 minute, then add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds or until it starts to turn light brown. Don’t let it go too dark or it’ll taste bitter. Lift on to kitchen paper and drain. Set aside.

5. For the mango and mint salad, toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

6. Divide the salad between four plates, top with the fish, crispy shallots and garlic, then spoon over the chilli sauce. Serve immediately.

Our thanks to Waitrose Cookery School Love to Cook (Simon and Schuster, £25) for providing this recipe.


For a healthier alternative, try coating the fish with 1 tbsp oil and then grilling or pan-frying instead of deep-frying.2 whole sea bass, bream or gurnard, scaled (about 350g each)


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.