Ready in 30 minutes, this recipe for fried fish is unique because of its Persian flavors. Brushed with saffron and seasoned with turmeric, this fish recipe works well for any occasion.
We have many fish and seafood recipes here on the blog but my favorites got to be the Persian style ones including stuffed branzino and shrimp and rice, not to mention this classic Persian fish recipe. Serve with some sabzi polo (herb rice) and you got yourself one of the best meals ever.
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Fried Fish - Persian Style!
It's very common to have fish right before Nowruz (Persian New Year). For this special occasion, Iranians usually fry fish fillets and serve them with herbed rice and pickled garlic.
What makes this fish fry special is the spices and preparation. The whole dish comes together in only 30 minutes since there is no need to marinate the fillets. The fish is brushed with bloomed saffron, then dredged in a spiced flour mixture and fried to perfection.
Did I mention that there's really only three steps to this recipe? It's perfect for a novice cook to impress friends and family without a major time investment!
Which Fish is Best for Frying?
White fishes such as mahi mahi and branzino are best for frying. I like using branzino fillets because of their tender ad buttery texture as well as the short cooking time.
You can ask the person working at the seafood section of your local supermarket to skin the fish if desired, however, my preference is to keep the skin because it gets crispy and nice, plus it makes it easier to handle the fish when frying.
Seasoning For Fish Fry
To make Persian fried fish, I used a combination of saffron to brush the fish as well as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. You can use other seasonings including paprika, cayenne pepper or coriander.
How To Make Fried Fish
- Grind the saffron threads onto powder using a pestle and mortar. Sprinkle the powdered saffron over a few ice cubes and let it melt. Brush the bloomed saffron over on both sides of the branzino fillets.
- Mix the flour with turmeric, cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dredge the fish fillets in the flour and make sure they are fully covered on both sides. Pat the fish with your hands to make sure the flour mixture is sticking well.
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmery place the fish in the pan and fry for 5-7 minutes on each side. Take the fish out of the pan and place it on a rack to get rid of the excess oil and keep the fried branzino crispy. Squeeze some lemon on the fish and serve immediately.
This recipe is very forgiving and there are several variations you can try:
- You can use other types of fish including tilapia, mahi mahi, flounder or seabass. Please note that cooking times may vary.
- Enhance the flavors by using other spices, such as cayenne pepper, cumin and coriander.
- Rice: Dill rice, Greek lemon rice and spinach rice.
- Potatoes: Greek potatoes, mashed potatoes, Lebanese spicy potatoes and roasted sweet potatoes.
- Salad: Mediterranean salad, beet salad with feta and zaatar and Mediterranean couscous salad.
Leftovers and reheating
It's always best to serve fried fish right away when it's fresh and hot. However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in a pan over medium heat and flip once or twice.
Frequently Asked Questions
The fish is ready when it's opaque and flakes easily. It takes about 8 to 10 minutes for a branzino fillet to fry completely over medium high heat.
It's always best to fry fish right before serving. However, you can make the flour mixture a day in advance if preferred.
I have not tried air frying fish using this recipe, so I'm not in a position to recommend it.
You can use any oil with a high smoking point, including avocado oil.
More Fish and Seafood Recipes
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Best Fried Fish Recipe (Persian Style)
- ¼ tsp ground saffron
- 4 whole branzino sliced open and insides clean, or cut into fillets
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 lemon juice of
- Sprinkle the saffron over 3 cubes of ice and let it melt at room temperature.
- Brush both sides of each branzino with the bloomed saffron.
- Mix the flour with turmeric, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and salt.
- Dredge the fish in the flour mixture on both sides. Pat with your hands to make sure the flour is sticking to the fish.
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Place the fish in the oil and fry for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until fully cooked.
- Take the fish out of the pan and place it on a cooling rack to get rid of the excess oil and keep the fish crispy.
- Top with lemon juice and serve immediately.
- Serve this fried fish with sabzi polo and kuku sabzi for Nowruz (Persian New Year).
- It's best to serve this fish immediately and not have leftovers. However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in a pan over medium heat and flip the fish a couple of time for even reheating.
- You can add other spices including cayenne pepper, cumin and coriander to the mix if desired.