Crisp Whole Red Snapper with Sesame-Citrus Sauce


A whole red snapper, its skin delectably crunchy from sizzling in hot oil, is a classic not to be missed. Be sure to serve the fish with plenty of steamed rice. 

Crisp Whole Red Snapper with Asian Citrus Sauce
Photo: © Melanie Acevedo
Total Time:
30 mins
4 servings


  • 2 whole red snappers (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pound each), cleaned and scaled

  • Cooking oil, for frying

  • 6 tablespoons canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 4 teaspoons fresh orange juice

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

  • 2 scallions, including green tops, cut into thin slices


  1. Rinse the fish and dry the surface and the cavity of each thoroughly with paper towels. In a 12-inch or larger nonstick frying pan, heat 3/8 of an inch of cooking oil over moderately high heat until very hot. A deep-fat thermometer should register 375°F. Carefully add the fish, letting the tails stick out of the pan if necessary. Let the fish cook, without moving them, until crisp and browned, about 9 minutes. Using a large spatula, carefully turn each fish. Continue cooking until crisp and browned and just done, about 7 minutes longer. Drain on paper towels.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the broth, soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, sesame oil, grated ginger, and scallions.

  3. Serve the fish on a platter. Run a knife between the flesh and the bones and lift off the fillet with the skin attached. Turn the fish over and repeat. Pass the sauce.


Fish alternatives: In place of the whole red snapper, you can use whole sea bass, porgies, or rockfish of the same weight.

Suggested pairing

A crisp, acidic white wine will be best with the citrus flavors of this dish. Try a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France (Sancerre) or a Pinot Blanc from the Alsace region.

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