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Asian Seared Whole Fish With Chili Sauce Recipe

This Asian Seared Whole Fish With Chili Sauce Recipe is served in a way you're probably not used to, but I guarantee you'll love!

Asian Seared Whole Fish With Chili Sauce Recipe
In this case, I used perch as the whole fish in this Asian-styled recipe, but it will work with nearly any species. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)
Print Recipe

This dish is served family style, much like at most Asian dinner tables. A whole fish is cooked, big enough for the family, and everyone picks at it with chopsticks to eat with rice. For most of my life, I ate fish with its head still on and had no idea that fillets even existed.

There are many variations of this dish. I’ve had whole fish seared/fried/steamed with all kinds of sauces on it. Use the ingredients here or make it your own – add ginger, use fish sauce and water instead of ponzu, add lime juice or vinegar – salty, spicy and tangy is what you’re shooting for.

Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

asian seared whole fish recipe chili sauce 1
If you can, try to find the Laoganma brand for the chili in oil ingredient. It's a thick and crunchy blend that has a little heat to it. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)


  • 1 whole fish, scales removed (pictured is perch)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili in oil
  • 3 tablespoons ponzu
  • Cooked white rice for serving


  1. Rinse fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside and outside with salt. This recipe can be done with fillets as well, preferably skin on to keep the flesh together.
  2. asian seared whole fish recipe perch
    Season your whole fish with salt and pepper only. The other ingredients will add that delicious Asian flavor. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil becomes hot, add fish and sear until browned on both sides and cooked through. Cooking times will vary. Carefully transfer fish to a serving plate and keep warm.
  4. asian seared whole fish recipe perch 3
    Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of your fish. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

    If you’re feeling extra motivated, deep fry the entire fish in hot oil for the crispiest result.

  5. To the same pan, add the chili in oil, sliced garlic and scallion. When garlic becomes aromatic and slightly browned, add the ponzu. These measurements can be doubled or tripled … depending on your taste, how big your fish is and how many people you are serving.
  6. asian seared whole fish recipe perch 4
    Feel free to adjust the ingredient measurements when making the sauce. Some might like it spicy while others enjoy a more garlicky taste. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  7. Drizzle the sauce over the fish and serve with hot white rice.

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