Seared Snapper in Hot and Sour Soup

Recipe by Lace ZhangDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



Recipe and Excerpt for this is taken from my second book, Around the Dining Table - An Asian-Inspired Modern Feast.

Like the overlooked girl next door, this clear and delicate style of tom yum soup is usually overshadowed by the exhilarating red-hot Tom Yum Goong, which may even come with an enticing creamy glint. This soup may appear more subdued on the surface but it is by no means any less exciting. In fact, because it doesn't get muddied by any other muting flavours, the aromatics have a chance to shine through even more. I've provided an option for making your fish stock here, but you can use a clear chicken stock as well. Instead of poaching fish slices, I've also opted to sear fillets till they're golden brown and have them perched atop this light and flavourful broth.


  • 500ml Fish Stock (see method below), or any clear stock of your choice

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed, bruised and cut into smaller chunks. Use the bottom half for this, and reserve the top half for the fish stock.

  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, scrunched up

  • 8 slices of galangal, thinly sliced

  • 3 to 4 thai chillies, the tiny ones, thinly sliced

  • 125 g baby corn, cut into thirds

  • 150g oyster mushrooms, torn

  • 8 to 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 to 2.5 Tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice (to taste)

  • 2 red snapper fillets

  • Canola oil for frying

  • Cilantro leaves for garnish


  • If you're making your own fish stock:
  • Bring 150g fish bones, 1.2 litres water, 1 cilantro root, 1 onion (peeled and quartered), 2 lemongrass tops, to a gentle boil. Simmer for 20 minutes and strain. You can freeze the rest for a rainy day.
  • Okay, for the main dish:
  • Infuse 500ml of your clear stock with all the aromatics - the lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, chillies - over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Add in the oyster mushrooms and baby corn. Season to taste with fish sauce by adding 2 Tablespoons first and working your way up if you want a saltier soup. Add your sugar and lime juice, adjusting to taste. Finally, toss in your cherry tomatoes and switch off the heat.
  • Set the soup aside while you sear your snapper. Score each fillet on its skin side by making two tiny incisions in the centre. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a pan over medium heat until smoking hot, then drizzle in some oil to coat the surface. When the oil is hot, place your fillets in it, skin side down. When the fish is about 3/4s the way cook, flip the fillets to lightly sear the other side.
  • To serve, ladle some soup along with the aromatics and ingredients into a shallow bowl. Top with the seared snapper, skin side up. Garnish with cilantro if desired and serve this to your lucky guests!

About Me


When not working on recipes in her kitchen, cranking up her overused commercial (yes, you read that right) oven at home, Lace can be found reading about food, writing impassioned paragraphs about food, thinking about food till the wee hours of the night, shopping for groceries as a serious sport, or gazing longingly at bakery displays.




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