Korean Pan-Fried Whole Fish

Shanghai-style deep fried small yellow croakers with spicy salt
Matt Leung / Getty Images
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings

Eating the whole fish, usually yellow croaker, is common in Korea, whether it's seasoned and braised, cut up and made into a stew, or fried on the stove.

Nose-to-tail fish eating is healthy and reduces waste since you can eat everything—the skin, the head, the tail, and the fins. One of the most delicious parts of a fish is on the back part of the head, which is lost if you fillet a fish. Depending on how much oil you've used and the size of your yellow croaker, the bones in this dish might even be soft enough to eat. If you haven't used a thick layer of oil, then you might have to remove the bones before eating.

Yellow croaker is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It contains significant amounts of B6 and B12 vitamins and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, all of which may carry health benefits.

Follow this simple recipe and you'll be gifted with a fish that is crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside.


  • 2 medium-sized yellow croakers (scaled, cleaned, and rinsed)
  • 3 tbsp. soju or rice wine
  • 2 tbsp. garlic ( crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tbsp. chapsal ( glutinous rice powder)
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • Canola oil for frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Combine soju, garlic, salt, and pepper and sprinkle the mixture onto both yellow croakers. Marinate for about 15 minutes.

  2. Mix flour, rice powder, and cornstarch together in a large bowl.

  3. Dip fish into the flour mixture, coating both sides evenly.

  4. In a pan, add at least 1/8-inch of cooking oil and heat.

  5. Pan-fry fish over medium-high heat until both sides are nicely browned. Add extra oil if necessary. Depending on the size of the fish, it will take about 3 to 5 minutes per side to cook.

  6. Remove from pan immediately and drain on paper towel.


  • Chapsal might also say "sweet rice powder" or "sweet rice flour" or "glutinous rice flour" on the package if you're buying it at an Asian grocery store. It's called "glutinous" because it has a glue-like and sticky texture after you cook it, not because it has gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) in it. Chapsal is a gluten-free food, and so is safe for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Recipe Variations

  • This is a traditional Korean way to cook yellow croaker (also known as jogi or yellow corvina), but you can also substitute grouper and striped bass with good results.

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