Chilli fish

Chilli fish another popular Indo-Chinese dish, which can be served as a starter or side dish. When I tasted this first in a restaurant, I loved the taste, as the fish was so delicate and tasty, it became one of my favourite dish. You can use any boneless firm fish like cod or tilapia. Chilli fish is prepared by marinating the fish, deep frying the fish in oil and then mixing it with a spicy sauce. I have made this chilli fish as dry not gravy type, but if you want gravy add more of the sauces and water with corn starch, while cooking. I have used tilapia fish; you can use any firm fish which is available to you.

Preparation time: 45 mins (including marination time)

Cooking time: 30 mins

Cuisine: Indo-Chinese

Serves: 2

Spiciness: Medium


  1. Fish (tilapia fillets, cut into small chunks) – 150 to 170 gms
  2. Marinade

  3. Soya sauce – 1 tsp
  4. Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
  5. Ginger (chopped) – 1/2 tsp
  6. Maida (plain flour) – 1 tbsp
  7. Corn flour – 3 tbsp
  8. Sauce

  9. Oil - 2 tbsp
  10. Onion (medium, chopped) - 1/2
  11. Garlic cloves (chopped) - 2
  12. Green chillies (sliced or chopped, small) - 3
  13. Cashewnuts (chopped) – 8 to 10
  14. Chinese salt or MSG - 2 pinches or 1/4 tsp
  15. Red chilli paste - 2 tsp
  16. Sugar – 1/2 to 3/4 tsp
  17. Dark soy sauce – 1 tbsp
  18. Tomato ketchup - 3 tbsp
  19. Rice vinegar - 1 tsp
  20. Sesame oil - 1/2 to 3/4 tsp
  21. Water - 1/3 cup, 1/3 cup again later
  22. Spring onion (sliced or chopped) – 2
  23. Corn starch (optional) - corn flour 1 tsp + 50 ml water
  24. Sauce

  25. Red capsicum (chunky cut) – 1/4
  26. Green capsicum (chunky cut) – 1/4
  27. Onion (chunky cut) – 1/4
  28. Garnish

  29. Spring onion (chopped) – 1


    Marinating and frying the fish

  1. Take a plate or bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well. Add the fish pieces and mix well. The marinade should get coated well on the fish. There is no need to add water. Keep this marinated fish aside for about 1/2 hour.
  2. Deep fry the marinated fish in oil and then keep the fried fish aside on a kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Fry the fish in batches. As soon as the coating of the fish changes colour to light brown and is cooked, you can remove the fish from the oil.
  3. Sauce

  4. Place a wide pan in heat, add oil, when it gets warm add onion , white part of spring onion, cashew nuts (chopped)and garlic and fry for a minute.
  5. Add chilli paste and green chillies, sauté for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add sugar, ajinomoto, soya sauce and tomato ketchup, and vinegar stir for few seconds.
  7. Add water – about 1/3 cup. Mix well and cook until the water is absorbed, it becomes like thick sauce consistency and the rawness of the chilli paste is gone. Keep stirring so that it does not burn. You can cook on medium flame.
  8. Add water again for the sauce about 1/3rd cup and cook for about 1 to 2 minute, till it becomes saucy consistency.
  9. Add corn starch and boil, the sauce starts thickening or until it is saucy consistency and enough to coat the vegetables and fish pieces.
  10. Add the capsicum, spring onions (green part) and onion pieces. Mix well with the sauce and the vegetables or until vegetables get blended with the vegetables. Simmer the flame while adding the vegetables and fish, so that sauce is not burnt or quickly reduced or becomes dry.
  11. Add the sesame oil and the fish pieces to the sauce. Mix the fish pieces well with the sauce and after 1 or 2 minutes, when the fish is well coated with the sauce, garnish with spring onions and switch the heat off.
  12. Serve it hot immediately as a starter or with fried rice or noodles.


  1. Add chilli paste according to your taste.
  2. You can make the chilli paste by soaking dry chillies or Kashmiri chillies in hot water for about 2 hours and then grinding them to a smooth paste.
  3. I have used dark soya sauce in this chilli fish recipe.
  4. Cook the sauce well and add the vegetables right at the end to keep the vegetables still crunchy.
  5. You can increase the quantity of the sauce by increasing the ingredients. Test before adding the vegetables and fish, so that if any seasoning is required you can add and adjust.