With an extra flavorful sauce poured onto a plate of golden-brown fried fish — this Sweet and Sour Tilapia recipe is one of the classic delicacies in proud Filipino cuisine. The special slushy sauce is made up of pineapple juice, ketchup, and seasonings.
Sweet and Sour Tilapia
Sweet and Sour Tilapia is one of the Filipino lutong-bahay favorites. Paired with hot freshly cooked white rice on the side, this delicious dish never disappoints. The perfect balance of sweetness and sourness among the spices is the secret to ace this delicious recipe.
Whenever I cook Sweet and Sour, I always make sure that the amounts of each ingredient are complimenting one another. It should neither be too sweet nor too sour. Also, I never want to miss even the simplest ingredient because then, the whole recipe will be compromised.
I inherited the recipe I use today from my mom who’s very fond of this famous delicacy. Every time she fries Tilapia as the family’s main course, I always know that she will be serving the sweet-sour sauce next on the table. Maybe that is the reason why I love my Sweet and Sour Tilapia with crispy fish rather than the sauce-soaked one.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Tilapia
With this clear and easy recipe guide, making a Sweet and Sour Tilapia will not be a problem anymore. You just need a few ingredients such as Tilapia fish and its seasonings: flour, salt, and pepper. For the sauce, you need pineapple chunks and juice, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, julienned carrots, bell pepper, minced garlic and onion.
Start the procedure by seasoning the slitted Tilapia with flour, salt, and pepper. The slits will make it fully seasoned and cooked. Fry this in a pan over medium level until it gets crispy and golden brown in color.
Next, make the special sauce. Over low-medium heat, saute the minced ginger and garlic, then throw in next the chopped onions, julienned bell pepper, pineapple chunks, and sugar to taste. Lastly, add the stirred mixture of pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, and vinegar. Make the sauce thicker by adding the water-cornstarch solution. Cook for more minutes.
Now you are left with a choice: whether you want the Tilapia skin crunchy or sauce-absorbed. If you want it crispy, you can pour the sauce on the Tilapia before serving. Otherwise, if you prefer a saucy soft Tilapia then opt for simmering it with the sauce during the last minutes of cooking the sauce. Personally, I love my Sweet and Sour Tilapia more when the fish is extra crispy. Sarap!
Sweet and Sour Tilapia
1 kg tilapia
salt and pepper to season
plain flour (for dredging before frying)
oil for frying
1 small can pineapple tidbits (reserve the syrup)
1/2 cup ketchup (tomato/banana)
1/4 cup vinegar
4 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 small carrot (cut into strips)
1 julienned bell pepper (red or/and green)
1/2 cup onions (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoon cornstarch (dissolved in 3 tablespoon water for slurry)
- Begin the process by seasoning the entire Tilapia fish with salt and pepper. Dredge the seasoned fish in plain flour then shake off the excess flour.
- Heat the pan over a medium-high level then put some oil. Once hot, fry into it the Tilapia fish and flip to cook both sides until it changes into a nice golden brown color. Set it aside as you make the sauce.
- For the sauce, combine in a bowl the pineapple juice, tomato/banana ketchup, soy sauce, and vinegar. Mix well until it gets uniform in color and texture.
- Heat the pan and put 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the minced ginger, minced garlic, chopped onions for seconds until it browns. Then, throw in the julienned carrots, julienned red and green bell peppers, pineapple chunks, and sugar to taste. Mix fully and finally pour down the pineapple-ketchup liquid mixture. Sprinkle salt and pepper to enrich the flavors. Stir completely and let it simmer for another minute.
- To make the sauce slurry and thick, combine 2 teaspoon cornstarch with 4 tablespoon water in a separate container. Slowly pour this into the sauce while continuously stirring.
- Add the fried fish into the red sauce in the pan. Let everything simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Lastly, add the spring onions. Transfer this Sweet and Sour Tilapia into a platter. Enjoy!