Saeng Sun Jun: Korean Pan-Fried Fish

Korean Pan Fried Fish (Saengsunjun). Naomi Imatome Yun
Ratings (21)
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings

A pan-fried battered white fish is a universal dish, and this recipe from Korea is a simple and delicious rendition. White fish fillets are first coated in flour and then in beaten egg; the fish is fried in a bit of oil until lightly golden and crispy. The thin coating of egg and flour make it easy to prepare, and the small pieces of fish make it easy to eat.

This fish is wonderful with a basic or spicy dipping sauce, drizzled with a combination of rice vinegar and soy sauce, or you can eat the fish just on its own (even with a squeeze of lemon). Serve with steamed rice and a variety of banchan, Korean side dishes, such as spicy Korean coleslaw and Korean pickled cucumber.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound white fish fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Cooking oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Cut the fish diagonally with the grain so the pieces are about 1 1/2 inch thick. Salt and pepper the fish on all sides.

  2. Beat eggs with any remaining salt in a bowl. Place bowl next to the stovetop.

  3. Put flour in a shallow bowl or dish next to the egg.

  4. Heat up a pan with a few teaspoons of oil over medium heat.

  5. Dip each fish piece into flour to coat; then dip into egg mixture and place in frying pan.

  6. Fry fish for 2 to 3 minutes and then flip over to finish for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the batter becomes a light yellow. (Try not to overcook, as the fish will become dry.) Remove to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.

Tips

  • If you find the fish too salty, you can decrease the amount of salt in the recipe to 1 to 2 teaspoons.
  • Almost any white fish works well in this recipe. The best option is a fresh fish with delicate white flesh like flounder, cod, pollack, sea perch, halibut, orange roughy, and yellow croaker, but even frozen fish tastes good cooked this way.
  • When frying the fish, make sure not to crowd the pan; if there are too many pieces the temperature of the oil will drop and the fish won't crisp up properly.
  • Make sure to drain the fried fish on paper towel to absorb any excess oil; you don't want to serve greasy saeng sun jun.

Recipe Variations

The term saeng sun means "fish" and jun means "anything fried," so it is quite a generic recipe name for quite a simple dish. As with any basic recipe, there is always room for additional flavors and textures. A common ingredient you may find in saeng sun jun is scallion; the green onion is chopped and combined with the beaten egg and salt. It brings a bit of color to the finished dish and a nice added flavor. You can also include some minced garlic or spicy chile for added depth and heat.