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Thai Fried Fish with Lemongrass Sauce

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This Thai fried fish recipe is one of my all time favourites!

Thai fried fish is hugely popular done this way with lots of different possibilities. This time it’s a special lemongrass sauce. If you love deep-fried fish and chips, you’ll find that this Thai fried fish recipe takes it to a whole new and delicious level. The coriander (cilantro) and lime sauce with all that lemongrass just plain gets it!

Thai fried fish with lemongrass sauce

Photo by Kris Kirkham for my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Thai’.

Get your fishmonger to prepare the bream for you and this Thai fried fish will be much easier to make. In these crazy times, my fishmonger wasn’t around to do the work so I had to do it myself.

It wasn’t all that difficult. Still, I’m looking forward to better times when I can have him do it for me.

Fried fish is hugely popular done this way not only in Thailand but at Thai restaurants here in the west. I love deep fried fish and chips but this Thai recipe takes fried fish to a whole new and delicious level.

The coriander and lime sauce with all that lemongrass just plain gets it!

How to butterfly the fish

If your fishmonger isn’t able to butterfly the fish for you, get yourself a sharp knife. From the top of the fish, fillet downwards from the back bone. Try not to lose much meat! You want to carefully cut along the bones.

Once you have filleted the fish on both sides of the back bone, turn the fish over and carefully remove the bones. All of them! There will be a few pin bones that don’t want to come out be be sure they are all out. 

Make shallow slits in the meat. This will help it cook in the oil. 

Working ahead

You could make the sauce a few hours before serving without losing much of the magnificent colour. If colour isn’t all that important to you, make it a couple of days earlier if you like.

The fish can be butterflied a day or so before cooking as well but fish is always best eaten on the day you buy it. Remember, fresh is best.

Make this recipe your own

Thai food is known for being spicy. That said, the best Thai food is the Thai food that appeals most to you taste preferences.

Feel free to add more of any of the primary flavours in the sauce. If you prefer a saltier flavour, add more fish sauce. For a sweeter flavour add more sugar and if you like a good sour touch, that’s the lime juice.

When it comes to how spicy the sauce is, that too is completely down to you. Please use this recipe as a guide but add more or fewer chillies to taste.

coriander fish sauce

heat up the sauce.

dusting the fish with flour

Dust the fish with flour and shake off all excess flour.

Frying the fish

Fry the fish for about 8 minutes or until brown and crispy.

frying chillies and lemongrass

Fry the lemongrass and chillies.

Thai fried fish

Dig in!

Love Thai food? Try some of these delicious recipes!

Thai Green Curry
Thai Red Curry
Beef Massaman Curry
Chicken Satay and peanut sauce
Steamed Sea Bass with Garlic and Lime Sauce
Tom Yum Gai
Tom Kha Gai
Hot and Sour Prawn Soup
Pad Thai
Pork Larb


No bones! Just a beautiful fried bream with lemongrass sauce.

fried fish

It doesn’t get much better than this Thai deep fried fish!


Yield: 2 - 4

Thai Fried Fish with Lemongrass Sauce

Thai sea bream
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 2 large sea bream - butterflied
  • 1 generous cup plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 30g (1 cup) fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 70ml (¼ cup) fresh squeezed lime juice (approx. 2-3 limes)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 4 lemongrass stalks – white part only with outer layer removed
  • 5 cloves garlic - smashed
  • 1 generous tbsp minced galangal or ginger
  • 3 green bird’s eye chillies – roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp palm surgar or honey
  • 2 long red chillies – cut into thin rings


  1. To make the sauce, blend two of the chopped lemongrass stalks together with the coriander, lime juice, water, fish sauce, garlic, galangal, bird's eye chillies and sugar until smooth.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed (canola) oil in a large frying pan. When hot, add the blended sauce and bring to a simmer. Keep warm.
  3. Heat about a bottle of rapeseed (canola) oil in a large wok. You are aiming for a temperature of 180c/356f.
  4. To make the fish, place the butterflied fish on a plate and dust with the flour and salt and pepper to taste. Ensure the whole fish is covered with flour.
  5. Remove and excess flour.
  6. When the oil has reached frying temperature, slowly lower one of the fish into the oil and fry for about 8 minutes. Repeat with the other fish.
  7. Now add the remaining lemongrass and sliced red chillies to the oil and fry for a few seconds until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
  8. Spoon some of the sauce on two heated plated and nestle place the fried fish on top.
  9. Drizzle with more sauce and garnish with the fried sliced lemongrass and chillies.

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Sunday 5th of September 2021

I always add a little bit of corn starch to my hot and sour soup.. it gives the soup , a little “body”…

Dan Toombs

Monday 6th of September 2021

Sounds like a good addition. Dan

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