Easy Thai Style Pan-Fried Fish Recipe

Fish in Banana Leaf
Copyright Darlene A. Schmidt, About.com Corp.
  • 23 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 8 mins
  • Yield: 2-3 servings
Ratings (11)

This pan-fried fish recipe is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and easy to make. A variety of fish can be used in this recipe, such as halibut, cod, tilapia, basa, or any other white-fleshed fish. The fish fillet or steak is lightly seared in a hot pan with a little oil for 5-8 minutes, then topped with a simple no-cook lemon-herb Thai sauce that really complements the flavor of the fish and lets its delicate tenderness shine through. Wonderful with rice, but equally good with potatoes, this easy fish recipe makes a great meal and is simple enough to fry up any night of the week. ENJOY!

What You'll Need

  • 2-3 fish steaks (white-fleshed or fillets, such as halibut, cod, tilapia, or trout)
  • 1 pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil for frying
  • For Lemon-Herb Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 lemon (squeezed for juice)
  • 2+1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (available in the Asian section of most supermarkets)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/3 cup coriander (fresh leaves and stems, chopped)
  • 2 spring green onions (sliced)
  • 1 chili, (red minced (or 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or for mild fish substitute 2-3 tablespoons minced red bell pepper)
  • 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk (or coconut cream)
  • Garnish: basil leaves (fresh sweet)

How to Make It

  1. Place all lemon-herb sauce ingredients together in a saucepan. Stir together and set aside.
  2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Then, using a paper towel or clean tea towel, pat the fish on both sides, absorbing any remaining moisture. (This is the secret to getting a good sear.)
  3. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and swirl around. Reduce heat to medium. Place fish in pan and season with salt and pepper.
  1. Do not move the fish once you have placed it in the pan or the flesh will tear. Cover and allow fish to fry undisturbed for at least 2 minutes before turning. If the pan is smoking, reduce heat to medium-low.
  2. Turn the fish, but again, don't move it around - allow it to fry undisturbed for another 2 minutes with the cover on. Lightly season the second side with salt and pepper.
  3. Fish is cooked when the inner flesh is opaque when gently pulled apart with a fork. One inch thickness will take roughly 5-6 minutes. (The halibut steaks shown here took 8 minutes)
  4. Place lemon-herb sauce over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until warm. (Don't boil the sauce or it will lose its fresh flavor and nutrients.)
  5. Before serving, taste-test the sauce. Note that this sauce tends toward the sour side; however, feel free to sweeten it with a little more sugar if it's too sour for you. If it's too spicy, add a little more coconut milk. If not salty enough, add more fish sauce. If too salty, add another squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
  6. To serve, place the fish fillets or steaks on individual plates. Spoon the sauce over and serve any extra on the side. Sprinkle with sweet basil leaves. This fish goes well with rice but is also delicious with potatoes. ENJOY!

Optional Serving Suggestion: In Thailand, this kind of fish would be served with the following simple condiment: 3-4 tablespoons soy sauce mixed with 1 fresh red chili (minced).