Sesame-Crusted Fish Fillets with Garlic-Ginger Sauce

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This recipe features another boldly flavored Chinese-inspired sauce that complements virtually any type of mild white fish fillets. The light, crispy crust on the fish is flecked with black and white sesame seeds, which add extra flavor and crunch. You could use only white sesame seeds, but it’s really worth a visit to an Asian market or spice shop, for the black ones add visual drama to this simple dish. There’s quite a lot of ginger in the sauce, which gives it a clean, spicy pungency. To julienne the ginger, cut the peeled knobs lengthwise along the grain into thin slices. Then stack the slices and cut them lengthwise, still along the grain, into even-size matchsticks.


Cooking Methodpan-frying



Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, lactose-free


Taste and Texturecrunchy, nutty, savory, spiced


  • 6 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and julienned (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups Fish Stock, Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons good-quality soy sauce, such as Kikkoman
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup white sesame seeds
  • 1 cup black sesame seeds
  • 6 mild white fish fillets (6 to 8 ounces each), such as flounder, cod, scrod, grouper, snapper, or bass


Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When a drop of water sizzles rapidly on contact with the oil, add the garlic and ginger and cook quickly until aromatic but just slightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the fish stock, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and oyster sauce and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, uncovered, until the flavors have blended and the sauce has reduced slightly, about 15 minutes.

Whisk 2 teaspoons of the cornstarch with the cold water to blend. When smooth, whisk the mixture into the simmering sauce, stirring until thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and keep warm, covered, while you prepare the fish.

Combine the egg whites and remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a wide, shallow bowl and whisk to blend. Combine the black and white sesame seeds on a plate. Dip each fish fillet first in the egg-white mixture to coat both sides, then in the sesame seeds to cover completely, shaking off any excess. Place each fillet as it is coated on a baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the fish fillets or as many as will fit comfortably; do not crowd the pan. Sauté until lightly browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Adjust the heat as necessary so the fillets brown nicely but the seeds don’t burn. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fillets to paper towels to drain, then to a platter. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven while you sauté the remaining fillets.

When all the fillets are sautéed, spoon the hot sauce over them and serve immediately.


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