Crispy Fried Fish with Tomato Kaffir Lime Confit | Recipe

February 18, 2017 , Haiya

This is one of my most favorite, most reliable, go-to recipes. It’s so super quick, and extremely delicious. My Crispy Fried Fish was a successful product of random experimentation. The tomato and kaffir lime sauce on top was the result of rummaging through my vegetable crisper, and finding some tomatoes that were one day away from rotting and some dried and shriveled up kaffir lime leaves I found in the bottom of the drawer.

I once tried breading the fish with coconut flour, because I simply love coconut. While I loved the sweet fragrance that the coconut flour imparts, I was disappointed to realize the obvious: that coconut flour absorbs far too much moisture- and that includes oil. This resulted in a not-so-crispy, very crumbly and very oily fish.

This fish is NOT deep-fried, but rather shallow-fried and can even be “air” fried. I love making this in my De’Longhi MultiFry multi cooker because with just a couple of tablespoons of oil, the job gets done beautifully and I could fool anyone into thinking that this is not a guilt-free meal, whereas it really does taste a lot more indulgent that it is.

Another great thing about this fried fish, is that it uses a super cheap kind of fish: the poor tilapia. If you can’t find tilapia specifically, just look for any “white fish fillets” in the frozen aisle of your grocery store. This kind of fish is the least “fishy” smelling fish, so it’s actually great for people who aren’t too crazy about seafood. It’s quite a “safe” fish, as I like to see it.

One of the tricks to frying super crispy fish, and keeping the batter or flour coating from coming off, is to make sure your oil is hot. You don’t want the oil to start smoking, but you want it to be really hot. You can tell by placing your palm 6 inches above the skillet, and if you feel heat being emitted, you’re ready to place the fillets in.  What this does is, it crisps up the outer layer/skin/breading instantly upon contact between fish and skillet. Also, fish cooks super fast, so you want to achieve that golden-brown exterior without drying out the fish into rubber from overcooking.

You can totally enjoy this fried fish as a main course by making full fillets, or you can serve it as an appetizer by cutting the fillets into smaller sized fillets of around 4 inches long. Here’s how it’s done:

Serves: 4. Prep time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Crispy Fried Fish with Tomato Kaffir Lime Confit | Recipe


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt.
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
  • 1 kg Tilapia
  • Ingredients for Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped.
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp chili flakes.
  • Canola oil for frying.


  1. Thaw the fish (if frozen), by placing it in a bowl of room temperature water.
  2. Drain out excess water, and cut fish into equal sized fillets
  3. Mix the salt, cayenne powder and flour in a deep plate.
  4. Place fillets in the flour mixture one at a time, making sure that all sides are properly coated in the flour. The moisture int he fish will help the flour stick to the fish, so there's no need for an egg-wash.
  5. Heat the canola oil in a frying pan. Place your palm 6 inches above the pan and if you can feel heat being emitted, it's ready for the fish.
  6. Place the floured fillets in the frying pan one by one, for 2-3 minutes on each side. I put as many fillets in the pan as it can hold.
  7. Remove fish from the pan once both sides are golden-brown and place on some kitchen towels to absorb excess oil.
  8. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil, and add garlic, tomatoes, and kaffir lime leaves. Let it simmer on low heat till the tomatoes release all their juice and it is almost dried up.
  9. Once the excess tomato juice has dried up, turn off heat, add the fish sauce, and chopped fresh cilantro. The confit should look chunky, like salsa.
  10. Place the fried fish fillets on a plate, and top with the chunky tomato sauce.