A Not So Traditional Nonya Sweet and Sour Snapper Dish

Sweet and Sour Snapper

To a mathematician, this might make for an appetising dish because it makes for a perfect S3.  A perfectionist might want to add in yet another ‘S’ – Sweet and Sour Sambal Snapper!

This is a ‘not-so-traditional-nonya dish’ because I did not add a very important ingredient that was indicated in Chef Shirley Tay’s recipe – garlic paste (Sunday Times Special – July 2009). Thence the use of red onion as a substitute. In addition, it is spicier than the usual piquant standards of Peranakan dishes, by three notches, at least.


  • Corn oil: 2 tbsp
  • Ginger: 1 finger length, finely chopped
  • Red Onion: finely chopped
  • Tomato sauce: 3 tbsp
  • Glory Nonya Sambal Chilli sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Sambal belachan: 1 tsp
  • Fresh chilli: 1 sliced horizontally (for cooking); 1 sliced vertically (for garnishing)
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Sugar: 2 tsp
  • Vinegar: 1 tbsp
  • Red snapper fish: 200g, chopped into serving slices
  • Spring onion: 1 stalk, sliced
  • Small lime: 1


  1. Heat oil in frying wok.
  2. Stir fry ginger and onions 1min till fragrant.
  3. Add in tomato sauce and stir fry evenly.
  4. Stir in chilli sauce, sambal belachan and fresh chilli.
  5. Add water and bring to boil.
  6. Add in salt, sugar, vinegar and stir 1min.
  7. Add in snapper and stir. Let simmer for 10min.
  8. Dish snapper and sauce onto plate. Garnish with chilli slices and spring onion.
  9. Top it off with freshly squeezed lime juice.
  10. Serve with hot rice or baguette.

Sweet and Sour Snapper 2


  • Variants of the Nonya sambal chilli sauce can be used, as seen in the Google Image via the above link.
  • Do not overcook as the fish meat will fall apart too easily and look messy.
  • The lime juice plays an important part in bringing out the sourness, as well as enhancing the sweetness, of the sauce!
  • Add in garlic at step 2 to create the authentic Nonya dish (Ikan Masam Manis).

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