Sweet & Sour Fish

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

  • About

This is another popular Trinidadian Chinese dish, and while folks in the United States will recognize the “sweet and sour” from American Chinese takeout menus, the Trinidadian version makes use of the ubiquitous hot pepper and the French method of first poaching the fish in a court bouillon, perhaps a culinary holdover from the very brief period of French colonization.


  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 5 Sichuan peppercorns
  • 10 thin lemon slices
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds pompano or butterfish fillets


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon coarse or (kosher) salt
  • 1 small Scotch bonnet or other hot red chili pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup shredded Napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


Poach Fish

Prepare a poaching liquid for the fish by combining 1 cup of water in a wide sauté pan with the chives, garlic, salt, peppercorns, lemon slices, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and add the fish fillets. Poach on a low simmer until cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Prepare Sauce

While fish is poaching prepare the sweet and sour sauce: Combine 1 cup of water, soy sauce, tomato sauce, brown sugar, ginger paste, salt, and chili pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the cabbage and continue to simmer until the cabbage cooks through, about 5 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in ½ cup of water and whisk so that the mixture resembles heavy cream. Add to the sweet and sour sauce, stirring constantly. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.

Remove the fish fillets from their poaching liquid and place on a deep rimmed platter. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over them. Serve with rice.