If you are trying to eat more fish, try this very quick and easy recipe using one of my favourite types of fish—branzino. Branzino is a mild-flavoured white fish, also known as European sea bass. It is delicious grilled or steamed (whole), fried or baked. I couldn’t get branzino the day I made this recipe, so I bought trout fillets, which were excellent. In this recipe from the February 2013 issue of Food and Wine, the fish is simply pan-fried and topped with a sweet-and-sour sauce, which takes only a few minutes to make. Add steamed rice and a green vegetable, and dinner is on the table in 30 minutes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use an all-natural stock such as Imagine brand and tamari instead of soy sauce. Marukan rice vinegar has no artificial ingredients and neither does Heinz ketchup. Check the label on the Chinese cooking wine or substitute sherry. I have never been able to find an all-natural chile-garlic sauce, so I used Tabasco hot sauce.

It only takes a few minutes to make the sweet-and-sour sauce.

Quickly pan-fry the fish; the skin should be crispy

Top the fish with the sweet-and-sour sauce and serve


1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine) or sherry

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce

3 tablespoons canola oil

1½ tablespoons minced peeled ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Four 4- to 5-ounce branzino, striped bass or trout fillets

2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

Steamed rice, for serving


In a small bowl, whisk the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sugar, wine, cornstarch and chile sauce. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, just until fragrant, 1 minute. Whisk the sauce ingredients, then add them to the pan. Simmer until the sauce is thickened and glossy, 5 minutes. Keep warm over low heat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the fish, skin side down, and press lightly with a spatula to sear the skin for 10 seconds for each fillet. Cook undisturbed over high heat until the fillets are browned and crispy at the edges and just barely opaque on top, about 5 minutes. Flip the fish and cook just until cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the fish skin side up to plates. Spoon the sauce on top, garnish with the scallions and serve with rice. Serves four. The sweet-and-sour sauce can be refrigerated overnight.

From the February 2013 issue of Food and Wine