Crispy Garlic Fish (Pla Tod Gratiem) ปลาทอดกระเทียม

This authentic Thai preparation works with any fish. Crispy fried garlic with crispy fried fish, served with a tart, fresh, and spicy sauce. It's to die for! #thairecipe #fishrecipe #troutrecipe

Catch and Cook!

This video is a special collaboration with my friend Rodney from the YouTube Channel Fishing with Rod. He’s caught some beautiful rainbow trout, a fish that’s sustainable and plentiful in BC lakes. But he’s tired of the same old way he used to cook them, and asked if I could take his catch and turn them into something a little more exciting that would rekindle his love for trout! Challenge accepted!

I decided to try something different that I was sure he would not have had before – pla tod gratiem: fry a large amount of garlic until crispy, fry the fish in the now-garlicky oil, and serve with a tart, spicy, refreshing sauce. I was pretty sure it would be a winner!

Thai People Love Deep Frying Whole Fish

Yes, we do. While people tend to cook fish delicately in the West, in Thailand we like to deep fry the heck out of them!

The fish is “overcooked” by Western standards, but it’s exactly what we’re going for. By deep frying in high heat, with NO batter or coating, the fish develops a nice firm crust that turns the fish into something rather munchy and almost snackable. As Rod said in the video, “it’s like chips!”

Deep frying also works to reduce any fishiness found in some freshwater fish. Even Rod who thinks that trout’s flavour is too fishy, didn’t mind it at all when he tried my deep fried version.  For small fish, we often fry them whole. But we also sometimes cube the meat and fry them like nuggets, which is what we’re doing here. If you start out with a whole fish, keep the head and bones and use them as part of a much more exciting presentation, which is the way I’ve done it here!

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This authentic Thai preparation works with any fish. Crispy fried garlic with crispy fried fish, served with a tart, fresh, and spicy sauce. It's to die for! #thairecipe #fishrecipe #troutrecipe

Crispy Garlic Fish

  • Author: Pailin Chongchitnant
  • Yield: 3 servings


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Ingredients and Kitchen Tools I Use


  • 1 head garlic
  • 600g wild rainbow trout fillet (or any other fish you prefer), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • A few sprigs cilantro or green onion, chopped, optional
  • Rice for serving


  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼½ tsp roasted chili flakes, to taste (see note)
  • 1 small shallot, finely sliced

Note: You can substitute red pepper flakes, but it’s also easy to make! Start with small dried chilies, roast them in a 325°F oven for about 5 minutes or until the chilies start to smell smokey and are darkened slightly. Grind in a coffee grinder until fine. You can keep this at room temp but for long term storage, keep in the fridge or freezer to prevent mold.

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For the Sauce:

  1. Mix all sauce ingredients together, stir to dissolve the sugar, then set aside until ready to use.

For the Fried Garlic:

  1. Fill a wok or a large pot with frying oil at least 2 inches deep; you want to have PLENTY of oil for the fish to fry in. Too little oil will cause the temp to drop too much once you add the fish and you won’t get a nice crust.
  2. Heat oil up to 250F to fry the garlic. While you wait, prepare a plate lined with a couple of layers of paper towels.
  3. Once oil reaches temp, turn heat down to low to maintain temperature. Add the garlic and fry, stirring frequently, until it’s golden (LIGHT golden, otherwise it will be bitter!) and there is very little bubbling left. Try to maintain heat under 275F, it should take about 5 minutes. Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil by adding a piece of garlic and it should bubble almost immediately but only gently.
  4. Once done, remove the garlic with a fine mesh skimmer and drain on the paper towel. Fish every last bit of garlic out of the oil otherwise they will burn when you fry the fish.

For the Fish

  1. Turn the heat up to high and bring the oil temp to 400°F.  Meanwhile prep a mixing bowl lined with paper towels for the fish to go in after.
  2. Drop the fish in the oil, one piece at a time, and only about 1/3 of the fish per batch so you don’t crowd the pan. Try to add the pieces away from each other so they don’t stick together. Fry for 2 minutes, or just until a golden and firm crust forms on the outside. Remove and place on the paper towels to absorb the oil.
  3. Repeat with remaining pieces (I myself fry 3 batches for 600g of fish) waiting for oil to come back up to temp before adding them in.
  4. Optional: You can fry the fish bones to use for presentation as I have shown here in the photo!
  5. Remove the paper towels from under the fish. Drizzle about 3 Tbsp of sauce over the fish as evenly as you can, and put the rest of the sauce in a small bowl for serving. Plate the fish pieces, drizzling more sauce on them if you see any dry pieces. Sprinkle crispy garlic and cilantro on top, and serve with the extra sauce on the side.
  6. Enjoy with rice and a preferably a cold fizzy beverage!

This authentic Thai preparation works with any fish. Crispy fried garlic with crispy fried fish, served with a tart, fresh, and spicy sauce. It's to die for! #thairecipe #fishrecipe #troutrecipe