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4.89 from 9 votes

Chinese Salt and Pepper Fish

The quality of your ingredients matters here more than the specifics: If you don't like cilantro, use parsley, and any fresh hot chile will work - or leave it out. And use whatever nice, fresh fish you can find. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw


  • Oil for frying (I use peanut oil)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sliced fresh garlic


  • 1/2 cup flour, cake flour if you have it
  • 1/2 cup corn or potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites


  • 1 1/2 pounds fish, cut into chunks
  • 1 heaping tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 3 small hot chiles, like serranos, Thai or cayenne. sliced thin (optional)
  • Cilantro or parsley for garnish


  • Heat up enough oil to deep fry the fish, about 3 to 4 cups, depending on what sort of pot or wok you use. 
  • While the oil is heating, make the batter. Mix the flour, starch, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks. Add about 1/2 cup of ice-cold water (or cold seltzer) into the flour bowl, then fold in the egg whites. 
  • Fry the ginger and garlic until the garlic just starts to brown, about 45 seconds. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove it to a paper towel. Set it aside for now. 
  • When to oil hits about 360F, coat a few pieces of the fish in the batter and deep fry them until golden brown, about 2 minutes. As they are frying, turn your oven to "warm" and set a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath it for your fish. Move the finished fish to the rack and continue frying the rest. 
  • When all the fish is ready, toss it with the salt and pepper, the reserved ginger and garlic, and the sliced chiles. Serve garnished with the cilantro.