Whole Fish Fried with Basil and Chiles Recipe

  • 1 whole (10 ounce) tilapia, or more as desired
  • oil for deep frying
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or as desired
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 large red chile peppers, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil leaves, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste
  1. Cut several angled slits along the body of the fish, cutting down to the rib bones. Cut 2 lateral slits along the back of the fish, from head to tail on either side of the dorsal fin. These cuts will ensure quick cooking and maximum crispiness.
  2. Heat oil for frying in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Gently place fish into the hot oil and fry until crispy, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Gently remove fish from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onion, red chile peppers, and garlic until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add fish sauce and soy sauce and remove wok from heat. Quickly stir basil and cilantro into sauce.
  5. Place fish on a large serving platter and pour sauce over fish.