Pan-Fried Fish Fillets

Serves 4
35 minutes to prepare and cook


Pan-frying fish the Korean way produces a wonderfully light and tasty dish. Any succulent and delicate white-fleshed fish is a good candidate: sole, red snapper, cod, mullet, halibut, sea perch, croaker, and flounder are all excellent. This dish is often included as one of the samsaekjon (three-colored pan-fried dishes), along with Stuffed Pan-Fried P'yogo Mushrooms and Stuffed Pan-Fried Peppers (see the book).


1 pound fish fillets, such as sole, red snapper, flounder, or cod,
     cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ch'õngju (rice wine) or vermouth
1/2 cup all-purpose wheat flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lemon, quartered or sliced into lemon wheels, for garnish
Pinch of sil koch'u (hot red pepper threads), snipped
     into small pieces, for garnish
Parsley sprigs, for garnish


Rinse the fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Place it in a colander in a single layer. Add the salt and pepper, and sprinkle the ch'õngju on top. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Spread the flour on a small plate. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a few drops of water. Line up the ingredients by the heat source, with the egg closest, followed by the flour, then the fish. Place a bamboo tray nearby.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Meanwhile, divide the fish into four batches. Working with the first batch, dredge each piece with flour and coat with the egg. Quickly add the fish to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until the coating is golden, yet moist. Adjust the heat between medium and medium-high to keep the coating from becoming too brown and dry. Transfer to the bamboo tray. Repeat three times with the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each fish into bite-size pieces.

To serve, arrange the fish on a platter in a fan pattern. Garnish with the lemon, sil koch'u, and parsley. Serve as an entree or side dish with Vinegar Soy Sauce in a bowl as a dipping sauce. Seasoned Spinach or any fresh Korean salad goes very well with this dish.


Traditionally, a few drops of gardenia seed extract (ch'ija) were added as a food dye to heighten the yellow color of the egg coating.


To make Pan-Fried Prawn Butterflies (Saeujon), substitute 12 large prawns or large tiger shrimp for the fish. Peel, devein, and butterfly the prawns, make a few crisscross slashes on the hack of each prawn, and flatten them with the flat side of a knife to prevent curling while cooking. Follow the directions in the base recipe, hot pan-fry for only 1-1/2 minutes per side. Serve as an appetizer, entree, or side dish.

Buy the Book!


Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen
A Cookbook

By Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall
Ten Speed Press, September 2001
Hardcover, $ 29.95
ISBN: 1-58008-281-5
Recipe reprinted by permission.


Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen



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