Jan 21, 2021

Thai Fried Red Snapper

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
The Thai dish, plaa lui suan, is traditionally served as a deep fried whole fish, however, I like this more manageable version for at-home preparations.

plaa lui suan translated from Thai to “fish in the garden” referring to the herb salad. A filet of red snapper (or another firm, white fish like grouper or rockfish) is cut into pieces before its battered and deep fried until crisp. It’s then served with a spicy yet savory lime vinaigrette along with herbs and cashews.

Thai Fried Red Snapper

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Red snapper – I like using snapper because it is a very mild tasting fish, with white, delicate and moist meat. While I purchased a whole red snapper and broke it down into fillets, I would suggest purchasing the fish already cut into fillets for ease.
  • Panko – Panko, or Japanese breadcrumbs, are light and airy. They absorb less oil than Italian breadcrumbs which makes for a crisp, crunchy texture. 
  • Herbs – The crispy fish is served with an herb salad made from a mix of cilantro, mint and basil.
  • Lemongrass – Lemongrass adds a bright, lemony flavor to dishes. Fresh lemongrass is best for this recipe since it has a more complex flavor. Pre-packaged paste or dried lemongrass can be substituted if needed. Only the bottom yellow part of the lemongrass stalk is used in cooking, the top part is typically much too tough.
  • Shallot – Shallots have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. If needed yellow or red onion can be swapped in. The general rule of thumb is 3 medium shallots equal 1 medium onion.
  • Fish sauce – I love the funky umami flavor fish sauce adds to any dish. It’s a great way to enhance the flavor of curries or even chicken wings. The flavor comes from a process of fermenting fish over a long period of time.
  • Thai Birdseye Chilies – Bird’s eye chilies or Thai chilies are small, pointy chili peppers that pack a punch. They add an intense heat with fruity flavor to dishes rating between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units. They can sometimes be difficult to find so I usually buy a large bag of them at my local Asian market. I store them in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag. It’s actually even easier to cut them when they are frozen.
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How to Make This Thai Fried Red Snapper

  • Make the dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, fish sauce, lime juice, birds eye chiles and palm sugar until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Grind the panko. Add the panko breadcrumbs to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until ground fine then add to a shallow bowl.
  • Prep the dredge. Add the flour to another shallow bowl and season it with salt and pepper, whisking to combine. Add the eggs to one more shallow bowl and beat the eggs.
  • Heat oil and coat the fish. Fill a large cast iron pan or Dutch oven with enough oil to reach 1-inch up the side of the pan. Heat the oil to 375ºF. Working in batches, toss pieces of snapper in the flour then the egg wash.
  • Fry the fish. Toss in the breadcrumbs until coated and fry until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 1 minute per side. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and remove the fried fish to the cooling rack to drain.
  • Make the herb salad. In a medium mixing bowl toss together the basil, mint, cilantro, lemongrass, green onions, shallots and cashews together. Pour the spicy lime sauce over the herb salad tossing to combine.
  • Assemble and serve. Arrange the fried fish in a serving bowl and top with the herb salad, pouring any remaining dressing over the top. Serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • Substitute the red snapper for another white fish like cod.
  • The spicy lime sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to a week in advance.
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Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Thai Fried Red Snapper-57.jpg

Thai Fried Red Snapper

Print Pin
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Spicy lime sauce:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 bird's eye chilies, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar, or brown sugar

For the snapper:

  • cups panko breadcrumbs
  • pounds red snapper fillet, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil, as needed, for frying

For serving:

  • ¼ packed cup basil leaves
  • packed cup mint leaves
  • 1 packed cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • cup halved cashews

Instructions:

Spicy lime sauce:

  • In a small bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, fish sauce, lime juice, birds eye chiles and palm sugar until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.

For the snapper:

  • Add the panko breadcrumbs to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until ground fine then add to a shallow bowl.
  • Add the flour to another shallow bowl and season it with salt and pepper, whisking to combine. Add the eggs to one more shallow bowl and beat the eggs.
  • Fill a large cast iron pan or Dutch oven with enough oil to reach 1-inch up the side of the pan. Heat the oil to 375ºF. Working in batches, toss pieces of snapper in the flour then the egg wash.
  • Toss in the breadcrumbs until coated and fry until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 1 minute per side. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and remove the fried fish to the cooling rack to drain.

For serving:

  • In a medium mixing bowl toss together the basil, mint, cilantro, lemongrass, green onions, shallots and cashews together. Pour the spicy lime sauce over the herb salad tossing to combine.
  • Arrange the fried fish in a serving bowl and top with the herb salad, pouring any remaining dressing over the top. Serve immediately.

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