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Thai Style Red Snapper in Lemon Tomato Sauce

With this remarkably fragrant recipe, layers of lemony-sweet and peppery-spicy flavors elevates the common red snapper from everyday blah to infinitely interesting...
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Dish
Servings: 6 people


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red snapper fillet cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 green serano chillis optional
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained optional
  • ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes optional
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon chilli sauce or more, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey or more, to taste
  • ½ cup sliced, fresh basil


  • Rinse the red snapper fillets. Dry them very carefully with paper towels, pressing firmly to remove any moisture. Sprinkle one side of the fillets generously, with salt.
  • Heat a large, non-stick skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is hot enough - place the fillets on the skillet, salt-side facing down. Sprinkle the side facing up with salt. Allow the fish to cook for about 2-3 minutes. Flip the fish on the other side, laying the fish away from you to avoid oil splatters. Cook for about 1-2 minutes - avoid overcooking the fillets. Remove the fish from the pan.
  • Add the butter, garlic, onion, capers, green chillis and tomatoes to the pan. Saute until onions are transparent. Add the clam juice, fish sauce, chilli sauce, honey and lemon juice and cook until broth is reduce to about half - about 3-5 minutes. Add the fish, pour sauce over the fillets and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with basil leaves. Allow the fish to absorb the sauce and flavors - for about 10 minutes. Serve with white rice or over a salad.

Wine Pairing

  • Dry, fruity wines with a hint of acid and sweetness to cut the spice, like a Riesling harmonizes well with the complex flavors of this dish. An un-oaked Grenache Blanc will also pair well with the tangy spicy flavors of this dish.


Dry the fish filets for maximum crispiness:  Pat the rinsed salmon fillets well prior to frying to ensure that the fish browns evenly and the skin has a crisp finish. Adjusting the heat:   The degree of spiciness can easily be adjusted depending on how the green chillis and red chilli flakes are used.  Because the green chillis cook whole, heat is released only if you choose to break them while eating the dish.  I like to add green chillis, because it allows me to manage the heat of the dish based on the tastes of my guests.  To add heat, increase the amount of chilli flakes as the chilli sauce will make the dish too acidic.  The flakes melt into the sauce creating an even heat. Honey enhances the flavor:  The sweetness from the honey is not used to make the dish sweet but to enhance the flavors of the other spice components. Allow the fish to soak in the sauce:  This dish tastes best if the fish is allowed to soak in the sauce.  The initial lemony taste of the sauce decreases as the fish absorbs the flavor.