Lemongrass Fried Pomfret

I'm told that my first solid food was fried fish. Whether or not that's true, it has been a long time favorite of mine. Sure, frying fish will make the whole house smell like, well, fried fish. And though I understand that some may gag at the thought of it infusing the furrows of their fine furniture, that beloved aroma takes me to a time when life was fun and fancy-free. This recipe for a pan-fried whole fish is deliciously simple. Here I used whole pomfret, but feel free to use your favorite fish. Any small fish that is firm and oily would be great -- e.g., mackerel, herring, etc.

Lemongrass Fried Pomfret

  • 1 whole fish (about 3 pounds, cleaned)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 1 whole Thai chili pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
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1. Mince the lemongrass and chili pepper until nearly fine. Add the salt. Continue mincing until fine. A food processor saves time but I try to use a mezzaluna when possible. If using a food processor, make sure to chop the lemongrass into quarter-inch slices or smaller (like chopping green onions) before processing; otherwise, you'll get unpleasantly long strands of lemongrass fibers.

2. Pat the fish dry. Cut three slits into each side of the fish. Thoroughly coat the fish with the lemongrass mixture, making sure to work the seasoning into the newly made slits.

3. In your favorite fish-frying skillet, fry over medium heat about 10 minutes each side, or until you can lift the meat at the slits and the bone underneath looks cooked through. Serve with rice and your favorite greens, which is ong choy for me.

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