Pan-Fried Belt Fish


The simple tastes, crispiness, and buttery texture of this Simple Pan-Fried Belt Fish have been passed down from generation to generation.

The first time my grandma and mother made it for me, and since then, I’ve made it countless times.

Belt fish is a type of freshwater fish.

One of the most common names for this species is “beltfish,” although it is also known as “cutlassfish” or “ribbonfish” because of its appearance. Another noticeable trait is the shimmering silvery skin that covers the entire body (hence the name cutlass).

Whole on ice or chopped into quarters, they can be found in Asian markets. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen them in a grocery shop outside of an Asian-owned chain of stores.

Steamed or red-braised belt fish is a popular dish in China, but you’ll rarely find it on restaurant menus because it’s so unusual.

Sashimi, pan-fried, and hot stews are all ways it’s used in Asian cuisines, including Japanese.

There are few recipes for this type of fish that I’ve come across. Please share your thoughts in the comments section if you have any.


Fresh versus frozen belt fish has a noticeable texture and flavor difference. This type of belt fish, which has never been frozen, is highly appreciated.

My grandmother used to make this often steamed with salt, ginger, and scallion. The fish is light and buttery to the point of being indescribable. It’s a delicacy for Zhejiang residents, who enjoy it as a treat.

We don’t have fresh belt fish in our area, so you’ll have to pan-fry or braise it.


My grandmother’s old statement usually comes to mind while I’m preparing fish for dinner: (xian yu dan rou). According to this well-known four-word proverb, fish should be cooked with a little more salt.

Because salting meats too heavily might ruin their flavor, you should only use a small amount of salt. There is a suggested salt level in this recipe, but I leave it up to you.

All three methods of serving are acceptable. It may seem strange, but all of them taste great when served with a steaming bowl of hot rice or porridge.

Reheating fish tends to make it taste more fishy, so avoid doing it as a general rule. If you don’t like eating your fish cold from the fridge, you can leave it out for 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat.


  • 2 pounds of belt fish
  • 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon of finely julienned ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped scallions (garnish)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of sea salt


  1. Scrape the fish’s entire exterior clean with a dull knife or the side of a pair of scissors. The silvery portion of the fish skin can taste fishy; nonetheless, this procedure is optional. Trim the fish’s gills, take out the intestines and the black membrane, and scrape any blood stains from the long, broad center bone.
  2. The fish should be well rinsed. Shake off any extra water, then slice into 2-inch pieces.
  3. Put the fish in a bowl. Before adding the Shaoxing wine and ginger julienne, evenly season the fish. In the refrigerator, marinate uncovered for three hours or overnight. To help the surface moisture evaporation, arrange the fish pieces on a big dish or sheet pan.
  4. Take out the entire ginger root from the fish.
  5. You now have two choices. The fish can be fried in its natural state or with a flour coating. Simply pour flour into a shallow basin or plate and coat the fish on both sides if you’re using the flour coating. Shake off the extra material.
  6. Cast iron with a flat bottom should be heated until it begins to smoke softly. (You don’t have to do this if you’re using a non-stick pan. Simply warm it up over medium heat.)
  7. 3 tablespoons of oil should be added, and the fish should be arranged with about an inch between each piece. Cook them in a pan until both sides are golden brown. Each batch takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook, depending on the size of the original fish. The golden color of pan-fried fish requires perseverance to obtain. Do not rush. The fish is thoroughly cooked when it easily separates from the center bone.
  8. If using, garnish with finely sliced scallions before serving.
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