Chili-Garlic Pan-Fried Fish Recipe

Sometimes, fish can be bland, but this recipe for pan-fried, chili-garlic fish is anything but boring. The strong taste from the garlic balances out the kick from the chili, and the pair together form the perfect flavor to accompany a piece of fish. This recipe includes a light breading to add some crispiness to the fish, and takes it to the next level. 

Recipe developer Jennine Rye of The Marshside Pantry came up with this easy fish recipe that brings the heat. "I love how quick and flavorful this dish is. It's such a great and simple way to fry many types of fish or fish fillets, and it has such great taste without overpowering the flavor of the meat," she raves. "The garlic, chili, salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and lemon are simple and fresh flavors that elevate, and enhance the flavors of fish," she notes. "Frying the flour-coated fish in garlic chili oil infuses these flavors into the [breading], and the herbs and lemon add fresh, earthy, and tangy flavors." Keep reading to find out how to make this wonderful fish dish.

Gather the ingredients for this chili-garlic, pan-fried fish recipe

For this recipe, you will need fresh fish, flour, salt, pepper, olive oil, thinly-sliced garlic cloves, chili flakes, fresh basil, fresh parsley, and lemon wedges for serving. "I used sardines for the photos and videos in this recipe; they have a delicious and lightly-sweet flavor, and I firmly believe they are a widely underused and a very affordable variety of fish," Rye notes. "Aside from sardines, I would recommend this frying technique for most small types of fish, or thinner fillets, such as basa, sole, or tilapia. It isn't as good for thicker or meatier types of fish, such as tuna steaks or salmon filets." 

Once you have those items, you can make this chili-garlic, pan-fried fish.

Dredge the fish in flour

Begin by adding the flour, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Mix to combine, and then set the mixture aside. Grab the gutted and descaled fish, and pat it dry with paper towels. This helps to remove the excess moisture, and makes the batter stick to the fish. Then, dredge the fish in the flour mixture, making sure to coat both sides evenly. Shake off any excess flour, and repeat the process with each piece of fish. "Dredging the fish in flour before frying it gives it a lovely, super light, and crispy coating, and makes it utterly delicious," Rye notes. 

Cook the garlic and fish

Place the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic and a pinch of chili flakes to the pan, and cook for 1 minute. "The only [thing] to look out for is to make sure the oil isn't too hot, or else the fish will burn before being cooked through," Rye notes. After a minute, add the fish to the frying pan, and cook for 3 minutes on each side. 

Serve and enjoy

Remove the fish from the pan, and serve as you wish. This dish is best served hot and fresh  — just top with the chopped basil, chopped parsley, and a generous squeeze of lemon. "This is a great, simple dish that can be served alongside many different foods," Rye adds. "Fresh salads are a lovely accompaniment, as are french fries, new potatoes, roasted vegetables, quinoa, or couscous." 

As for leftovers, "Because this is such a quick recipe, I would always recommend cooking and consuming it fresh because it tastes so much better," Rye shares. "However, leftovers sometimes happen. You can gently reheat the fish in the oven, making sure it is properly cooked through using a food thermometer, [and eat within] 2 days." 

Chili-Garlic Pan-Fried Fish Recipe
4.9 from 25 ratings
Turn the most basic of proteins into something simple, yet delicious with this chili-garlic, pan-fried fish recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
pan-fried fish on plate
Total time: 11 minutes
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound fresh fish, like sardines, gutted and descaled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly-sliced
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper, and set aside.
  2. Pat the fish dry before dredging it in the flour mixture, making sure to thoroughly coat it on both sides. Shake off any excess flour.
  3. Heat up the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the sliced garlic and a pinch of chili flakes. Allow it to fry gently for a minute, before adding the fish, frying for 3 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve the fish hot, and sprinkle with fresh basil, parsley, and a generous squeeze of lemon.
Calories per Serving 570
Total Fat 31.5 g
Saturated Fat 5.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 136.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 19.8 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Total Sugars 0.2 g
Sodium 650.0 mg
Protein 48.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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