Squirrel Fish

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a Main Course.

Appears in

Chinese Technique

By Ken Hom

Published 1981

  • About

If you fillet the fish ahead of time, do it no more than a few hours before serving, and do not dust it with cornstarch or water chestnut powder until you are ready to fry it; otherwise the coating gets soggy. The sauce can be made ahead. Sweet-and-sour sauce is traditional, but a hot spicy one (such as the sauce for Braised Sichuan Fish) or a black bean sauce (like the Lobster Sauce) is excellent, too.


  • 5 cups oil for deep-frying
  • 1 white-fleshed fish, 2 to 2½ pounds, filleted with the tail attached
  • Water chestnut powder or cornstarch for dusting
  • 1 recipe (2 cups) Sweet-and-Sour Sauce
  • 1 cup mixed pickled vegetables and rinds



  1. Heat the oil in a wok until it is moderately hot (about 350 degrees). Dust the fish with water chestnut powder or cornstarch, and put the fish into the oil.

  2. Fry it for 5 to 7 minutes, or just long enough to brown it lightly.

  3. Remove the fish with a strainer. Set it on paper towels to drain.

  4. Fry the head the same way.

  5. Remove all of the oil from the wok to make Sweet-and-Sour Sauce, or heat the sauce in a separate pan.

  6. Arrange the fried fish and its head on a platter. Coat it with the sauce. Garnish with the pickled vegetables.

  7. A good sweet-and-sour sauce has a good balance of tartness from the vinegar and sweetness from the sugar, neither dominating. Added flavor comes from the pickled vegetables.

  • Suggested Beverage: Beer