Fried Fish with Soy Sauce (Cá Chiên Xì Dầu)


  • 2 whole red tilapia fish or any fish of your choice (1 lb each)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon MSG
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (peel; finely mince)
  • 1 knob ginger (peel; finely mince)
  • Green Onions
  • Cilantro


  1. Cut deep slits into the body of the fish for quicker cooking. In a small bowl, mix together salt, ground black pepper, and MSG until combined. Rub seasoning all over fish, including the inside. Marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge for best results.
  2. In a wide skillet, fill oil 1-inch high and heat on medium-high to 350°F or a drop of corn starch sizzles gently. Add fish and fry for 6-7 minutes each side. Remove from oil and drain on a wire rack.
  3. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, oyster sauce and water and mix until dissolved. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (use oil from frying fish). Add garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant and lightly brown. Add in sauce mixture and heat until bubbling. Immediately turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer fish to a large platter and pour the soy sauce glaze over the fish. Alternatively, pour the soy sauce glaze on the bottom of the platter and serve the fish over the glaze or serve the sauce in a bowl on the side to maintain the fish crispiness. Garnish with sliced green onions or cilantro. Serve with sliced cucumbers and steamed rice for a complete meal.

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