Home » Ingredient » Seafood » Fish » Sweet and Sour Fish {Simplified Huai Yang Style}

Sweet and Sour Fish {Simplified Huai Yang Style}

Short cut to cook traditional Huai Yang Style Sweet & Sour Croaker {糖醋黄花鱼}

by Shirley
Published: Updated:
Sweet and Sour Fish {Simplified Huai Yang Style}

Inspired by traditional Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour Croaker {糖醋黄花鱼}, this simplified version cooks the fish in less than 15 minutes. It features whole fish braised in the iconic Huai Yang Style sweet and sour sauce. This straightforward braising method cooks fish in less than 15 minutes. Amazingly tasty, and so quick and easy to make.

Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style}
Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style}

What is Huai Yang Cuisine?

Four Great Traditional Chinese Cuisines

Speaking of Huai Yang Cuisine, I have to mention the Four Great Traditional Chinese Cuisines first. They are Shandong or short for Lu {鲁}, Sichuan or Chuan {川}, Cantonese or Yue {粤}, and last but not least is Huai Yang or Su {苏}. Over the course of China’s long history, these four areas each formed their distinguished cooking styles based on their unique history, culture, local natural environment & resources.

Huai Yang Cuisine {淮阳菜} is native to China’s Yangtze River Delta, a place I proudly call my hometown. Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and Wuxi are representative cities in this area.

Huai Yang Cuisine Classic Dishes Collection 1
Huai Yang Cuisine Classic Dishes Part 1

Yangtze River Delta area has been enjoying mild weather and bountiful resources since ancient times. Well known for its natural deliciousness, Huai Yang Cooking Style aims to bring out the food itself’s inherent yumminess. The condiments are only there to complement but not overshadow the food.

Huai Yang Style Food typically uses very little salt, and oil, and avoids any over-powering condiments, such as hot peppers. Therefore, it is suitable for all ages, including young children.

Huai Yang Classic Dishes Collection 2
Huai Yang Classic Dishes Part 2

What is typical Huai Yang Cuisine food look like?

Pork, duck, fish, and rice are among the popular ingredients going into Huai Yang style food.

Pork-featured classic dishes include Lion’s Head Soup, Red Braised Lion’s Head, Sweet and Sour Ribs, Steamed Pork Patty, Red Braised Pork Chops, etc.

For duck, Nanjing salted duck and Red Braised Duck are among the popular ones.

Fish featured classic dishes include Sweet and Sour Yellow Croaker, Red Braised Fish, Pan Fried Crucian, etc.

Rice-featured traditional dishes include Stir Fried Rice Cake with Pork Slices and Napa Cabbage, Brown Sugar Rice Cake, Pork Sweet Rice Flour Dumplings, Red Bean Rice Flour Dumplings, and Red Bean with Mini Sweet Rice Flour Balls {Xiao Yuan Zi}, Qing Tuan {Green Sweet Rice Flour Red Bean Dumplings}.

Other well-liked dishes include Huai Yang Style Wonton Soup, Shanghai Soup Dumplings {Xiao Long Bao}, Sheng Jian Mantou {Pan Fried Pork Buns}, and Yang Chun Noodle Soup.

Zhenjiang vinegar is the ancient delicious vinegar behind the iconic Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour flavor

Zhenjiang vinegar is an ancient black rice vinegar native to the Zhenjiang city of Jiangsu Province in the Yangtze River Delta. Satisfyingly delicious, Zhenjiang vinegar has been one of the cornerstone condiments of Huai Yang style cooking, particularly the Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour flavor and taste.

Huai Yang Cuisine Sweet and Sour style features black sauce containing naturally aged soy sauce, light soy sauce, Zhenjiang vinegar, and sugar. Sweet and Sour Ribs are another iconic Huai Yang style dish, especially popular in the Shanghai area.

What types of fish are suitable for the Sweet and Sour Huai Yang style?

First, you can use either freshwater or saltwater fish. Yellow Croaker is the most popular fish choice, which is a saltwater fish. Butterfish is the other most suitable saltwater fish. Perch and crucian are among the most suitable freshwater fish.

Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style} Ingredients

A suitable whole fish for Huai Yang Sweet and Sour style typically weighs between 0.5 lb to around 1 lb that has tender, flaky, yummy white meat.

I am cooking Canadian wild-caught white perch today. 4 of them weigh about 3.4 lbs after cleaning and descaling.

How to make a tasty, healthy, Sweet, and Sour fish in less than 15 minutes?

See the Recipe for a detailed step-by-step tutorial. Here are key tips and tricks.

The first is to coat whole fish with arrowroot flour prior to cooking

Clean and rinse the fish well. Pat dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle the fish with a pinch of salt evenly. After that coat the fish, on both sides, with a thin layer of arrowroot flour. Gently pat to rub into fish.

Coat whole fish with arrowroot flour before cooking
Coat whole fish with arrowroot flour before cooking

The Second is to sear the fish on both sides before braising

Sear the whole fish for braising sweet and sour fish Huai Yang Style
Sear the whole fish for braising sweet and sour fish Huai Yang Style

Turn the heat to medium, heat a hard anodized fry pan for 1 minute, and then add oil, green onions, and ginger. Stir for about 10 seconds or till fragrant and then lay fish flat onto the pan one by one. Cook for 2 minutes. Following that, flip the fish and cook the other side for another 2 minutes.

Traditional vs. Simplified Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour Fish

Sweet and Sour Yellow Croaker is a very traditional well-liked Huai Yang-style dish. The traditional cooking method usually involves pan-frying fish using low heat first and then pouring the classic Huai Yang Style sweet and sour sauce over the cooked fish. This method usually takes about 30 minutes, instead of 15 minutes using the braising method.

the traditional method Huai Yang style requires more prep work, for instance, e.g. coat the fish with arrowroot flour, which also takes longer to pan-fry first. As a result, the fish meat has a more satisfying firm bite and flaky texture. The simplified method doesn’t require lots of preparation and cooks the fish in under 15 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style}

Sweet and Sour Fish {Huai Yang Simplified Style} Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Inspired by the traditional Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour Croaker {糖醋黄花鱼}, this simplified version cooks the fish in less than 15 minutes featuring whole fish braised in the iconic Huai Yang Style Sweet and Source sauce. So naturally delicious, and is quick and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. whole fish, net weight, fully cleaned, gutted and descaled
  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot flour, optional but recommended
  • 1 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger, about 12 grams, thinly julienne sliced
  • 2 stems of tender cilantro, for garnishing, chopped

For Braising Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. sake
  • 1/4 cup Zhenjiang Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar, turbinado sugar or organic cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp. naturally aged soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper, optional, freshly ground

Instructions

  1. Gather all ingredients. Add everything under the "For Braising Sauce" into a small bowl, whisk to mix.
    Sweet and Sour Fish {Shanghai Style} Ingredients
  2. Wash and rinse the fish inside out. Remove any additional undesirable stuff from the rib cage if needed. Pat dry fish with a paper towel.
  3. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. arrowroot flour evenly over fish, on both sides, and gently pat.
    Coat whole fish with arrowroot flour before cooking
  4. Turn the heat to medium, heat a hard-anodized fry pan for 1 minute, and then add oil, green onions, and ginger. Stir for about 10 seconds or till fragrant.
  5. Lay fish flat onto the pan, one by one, and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the fish and cook for another 2 minutes.
    Sear the whole fish for braising sweet and sour fish Huai Yang Style
  6. Pour braising sauce into the pan in a circular motion. Use a mini spatula to scrape the sauce bowl if needed. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
    Braising Sweet and Sour Fish Huai Yang Simplified Style
  7. Flip the fish and cook for another 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, and flip the fish for it to soak up the braising juice.
  9. All done! Garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy a super delicious fish.
    Freshly made Sweet and Sour Fish Huai Yang Simplified Style

Notes

  • Fish that have white flaky meat are suitable for sweet and sour fish, such as bass, perch, belt fish, butterfish, yellow croaker, croaker, etc.
  • Arrowroot flour is my go-to gluten-free wholesome starch choice. You may use the starch of your choice.
  • Naturally aged soy sauce or Jiang You in Chinese is the traditional soy sauce used since ancient times. Dark vs. Light soy sauce is modern time Cantonese invention. You can generally use dark soy sauce to substitute naturally aged soy sauce.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 servings Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 504Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 138mgSodium 1263mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 1gSugar 27gProtein 64g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Leave a Comment

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Skip to Recipe