Red Braised Tilapia

A fish dish is indispensable on Chinese New Year Eve feast. No fish, no feast. When treating guests, Chinese usually automatically cook one fish dish.

Red braising fish is a classical and home style dish at Chinese people’s dinning table. I grew up with eating a lot of fish. However, there is a big difference of fish species and texture between China and USA. Inspired by my friend, I have created one of my family’s weekly tasty dishes: red braised tilapia. Fish meat is very tender and tasty and the soup is the best to go with rice.

We usually buy tilapia alive in an Asian supermarket, and workers there help you process it.

Zhenjiang vinegar, chili bean paste and LEE KUM KEE DOUBLE PREMIUM SOY SAUCE
ginger-stuffed tilapia and a combination of chili bean paste, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar


  • One processed tilapia, about one pound
  • A quarter of teaspoon salt
  • Five pieces of one-inch ginger, julienned
  • One piece of one-inch ginger for rubbing the wok
  • One tablespoon of grapeseed oil
  • Half a tablespoon chili bean paste
  • Half a tablespoon LEE KUM KEE PREMIUM SOY SAUCE or any other brand light soy sauce
  • A teaspoon zhenjiang vinegar
  • A teaspoon sugar
  • Two cups of water
Fried tilapia


  1. Smear a quarter of teaspoon salt to the fish body and set it aside for 10 minutes. Use kitchen towels to wipe the fish body several times until you can not see any water or liquid on its surface.
  2. Stuff the tilapia’s stomach with ginger.
  3. Heat the wok dry and rub the wok bottom for two minutes  with a piece of ginger to prevent fish skin from being stuck to the bottom later.
  4. Heat grapeseed oil in the wok and fry two sides of tilapia until you can see the skin is crispy and a little golden with low flame, about six minutes. (See the picture above)
  5. Combine chili bean paste, soy sauce , vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Move the fish aside, and add all the sauces to stir fry for one minute.
  6. Pour water and cover the lid to boil for ten minutes.
  7. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle some chopped green onions.
  8. Serve warm with rice.
Red braised tilapia


  1. Ginger and chili bean paste are the two most important sauces to remove tilapia’s fishy smell and trigger its aroma.
  2. The first step and the third step are important for the fish not to be broken during the cooking process.
  3. The chili bean paste and other sauces are generally saltier than those in China. You do not need to add any salt finally.
  4. If the fish is heavier, increase each sauce’s quantity commensurately.

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