Thai crispy fish with tamarind sauce recipe is hands down THE BEST you'll try. Pan-fried to perfection, this crispy Thai fish is drizzled with a sticky, sweet, and sour tamarind sauce that's loaded with a garlic kick, so good!
Can't get enough of Thai whole fish recipes? Try my refreshing Thai lime garlic steamed fish!
For this Thai crispy whole fish with tamarind sauce, I used tilapia, which I purchased fresh at the local food market in our rural village. But you can totally switch it up with your favorite fish - bass, snapper, trout, feel free to experiment!
Coated with cornflour, the fish sizzles away in a pan until perfectly crunchy.
After deep-frying, we drizzle the whole thing in an irresistible sauce of sweet palm sugar and tangy tamarind paste.
This Thai crispy fish is sticky and irresistibly saucy, it's downright delicious!
I love to make it spicy by topping it off with lots of spicy Thai chilies, both fresh and dried chili peppers, and a bunch of garlic.
This is THE BEST Thai crispy fish recipe EVER, trust me.
PS, if you love fried fish, you'll love this pan fried catfish no breading recipe too!
For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.
Transfer your fried fish to a dish that fits its size. Drizzle it with the sauce and top if off with chilies and optionally fresh herbs like cilantro or chopped green onions.
Serve with rice, a lime wedge, or even some fresh vegetables like yard long beans and Thai eggplants on the side.
I suggest eating Thai crispy fish in one go, since the fish is deep-fried, the leftovers will become soggy over time.
Let your leftovers cool down to room temperature and transfer them to an airtight container. Store the leftover tamarind sauce in a separate airtight container and keep it in the fridge.
Reheating instructions: Reheat in an oven for about 10–15 minutes, or pan-fry until warm.
In Thailand, this dish is known as pla tub tim rad prik. It's a popular Thai dish that's enjoyed as a larger meal, often with the family. In my family, we pair it with sticky rice and lots of other dishes like spicy salads and noodles.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Do I have to use a whole fish?
Do I have to use a mortar and pestle?
Is this recipe spicy?
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Soft and tender fish flesh, covered in a sweet and spicy tamarind sauce with hints of garlic.
Thoroughly clean the fish with cold water, both inside and out.
Pat the fish dry completely to prevent oil splatter during frying.
Slice a few deep diagonal cuts across the flesh of the fish (not too deep).
Coat the fish evenly with cornflour.
Pour oil into a deep-frying pan, enough to submerge one side of the fish at a time, and heat it over a medium heat.
When the oil reaches temperature, fry each side for approx 8 minutes until golden and crispy. Adjust frying time based on the fish’s size.
After cooking, use a large spatula to carefully remove the fish from the oil and place it in a colander to drain any excess oil.
Crush the chilies and garlic with a mortar and pestle.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of cornflour with 2 tablespoons of water. This will be used later to thicken the sauce.
Warm 3 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the crushed chilies and garlic until golden and fragrant.
Add palm sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and a splash of water.
Stir in the cornflour mixture until the sauce thickens to a glossy consistency.
Transfer the fish to a serving dish and pour over the tamarind sauce. Top with fresh and dried chilies if you want to make it spicy.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.