Best Recipes for Cooking Ribbonfish: The Top 3 Recipes You’ll Need

The ribbonfish or cutlassfish is a popular delicacy found mostly in Asia. Bearing tiny scales of bright silver, most people in the west would skip the ribbonfish as they’re unfamiliar with it. The ribbonfish is however a great source of omega-3 and selenium. The texture of the ribbonfish is delicate, presenting itself with white, flaky meat that has a hint of ocean flavors. Preparing the fish is also easy as they’re mostly sold in fillets in the markets. Here are our top 3 picks of the best recipes for cooking ribbonfish.

Asian flavors: Braised Ribbonfish 

Braising a ribbonfish is one of the most common ways to cook the fish in Asia. It boasts a refreshing taste bordering sweet and sour flavors and would be ready to serve in less than 15 minutes. 

Dry ingredients: 

  • ¼ cup of cornstarch or flour 
  • 1 pound of ribbonfish, filleted and chopped into 4 to 6-inch slices 
  • ½ sliced red, orange, or yellow bell peppers 
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1 inch of ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • Some oil for cooking
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A handful of chopped green scallions for garnish

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Thai chili sauce (feel free to add a little more if you’d like)
  • ½ cup of chicken broth

Cooking instructions: 

Step 1: Line your ribbonfish slices on a plate. Dredge your ribbonfish slices in cornstarch or flour. Be sure to shake off or wipe away any excess.

Step 2: In a large pan, bring the oil to heat and sauté the pepper and onions until they have softened. Be sure not to burn them.

Step 3: Add ginger and garlic to the mix, and sauté until the garlic turns golden brown. Immediately add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Thai chili sauce, chicken broth, and brown sugar into the pan. Bring to a gentle boil or until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. 

Step 4: Carefully add the fish into the pan with the skin side down. Cover the pan with a lid and cook with low or medium-low temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

Step 5: Carefully taste the sauce and adjust salt, pepper, and Thai chili sauce as needed. Garnish with scallions and serve while hot. 

As you can see, preparing the braised ribbonfish is quite simple. If you’d like, you could also pair the braised ribbonfish with a bowl of white or brown rice. This is as the strong flavors of the dish are known to complement well with the simplicity of rice.

A Crispy affair: Pan-Fried Ribbonfish with Ginger 

If preparing a ribbonfish in a saucy mix isn’t your kind of dish, you could also consider pan-frying it to make it crispy to bite. It even complements well as a snack, although in most Asian households, you’ll see the pan-fried ribbonfish with ginger served with rice. 


  • 1 pound of ribbonfish, filleted and chopped into 3” slices
  • 1 cup of rice cooking wine
  • Ground ginger powder 
  • Salt to taste
  • Some oil for cooking 
  • A handful of chopped green scallions for garnish

Cooking instructions: 

Step 1: Cut diagonal slits across the skin of the ribbonfish slices. Marinate the ribbonfish slices with rice cooking wine, ground ginger powder, and salt. Gently massage fish slices to ensure all the marinate gets through the ribbonfish. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. 

Step 2: Heat some oil in a pan. You don’t need too much as you are not deep-frying the fish. Test if the oil is hot enough by putting a stick to the middle. If bubbles form around the stick, then you’ll know the oil is ready for frying. 

Step 3: Carefully place the fish slices in the hot oil to pan-fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the ribbonfish to pan-fry on the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the hot oil if the fish is golden brown or repeat for another minute as needed.

Step 4: If the pan-fried ribbonfish feels too oily, you could always remove some of the oil with a kitchen towel before plating. Garnish with chopped green scallions and serve with a side of light soy sauce for dipping.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also try nibbling on the bones of the fish. You should be treated with a crispy chip-like consistency, making it an ideal snack to complement a pint of beer or 2. 

A taste of Italy: Ribbonfish Puttanesca

The Italian favorite puttanesca sauce is an easy fix for those busy days out. Paired with the briny flavors of the fish, the ribbonfish puttanesca dish is a safe go-to if you’re not keen to have Asian cooking for the night. 


  • 1 pound of ribbonfish, filleted and cut in 3” pieces
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 2 minced anchovy fillets 
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • ½ cups of pitted olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh basil, coarsely chopped (you could also replace this with basil pesto if you don’t have fresh basil)
  • 2 tablespoons of capers 
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint 
  • 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking instructions:

Step 1: Start by preheating your oven to 325 F and place a rack in the center. You can then season your fish with salt and pepper and set aside.

Step 2: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven-safe skillet before adding onions and anchovies to it. Cook for approximately 5 minutes and add in the garlic and red pepper flakes. 

Step 3: Pour diced tomatoes and their juices into the skillet before adding olives, capers, and basil. Cook for approximately 8 minutes and place the fish in the middle of the skillet. Spoon some of the sauce on the fish and cover the skillet with a foil.  

Step 4: Place the skillet in the preheated oven and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Mix a tablespoon of basil, mint, and red wine vinegar together and drizzle it over the fish before serving.

The ribbonfish puttanesca compliments great with a glass of red wine, and you’ll be sure to impress a date if you’re looking to dish it out then. 

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