Pescado Frito Colombiano (Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish)

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Pescado Frito Colombiano (Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish)

Today I am sharing with you a true Colombian classic, Pescado Frito Colombiano (Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish), a very popular dish from the coast of Colombia.

The first time I had Pescado Frito was on the beach in Cartagena, Colombia. It was served with patacones (green plantains), coconut rice and a simple tomato salad on the side, and since that day, it has been one of my favorite ways to eat fish. Just heavenly!

La Chamba Pescado Frito Colombiano (Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish)

I love Pescado Frito, but I don’t get to eat it often here in the United States, as it is very difficult to find the perfect fresh fish for this recipe where I live. But, a couple of weeks ago I went to a different market and found fresh whole tilapia fish on sale, the perfect fish to make my Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish. So, without hesitation, I bought a couple of them and made this Pescado Frito, one of the simplest recipes for fried fish, and super delicious, especially served with patacones and rice on the side. If you haven’t try fried whole fish yet, make this recipe! If you feel intimidated by the head, just ask the fish guy to chop it off for you. I’m betting you’ll love this dish too!

Some of the most popular fish in Colombia to make this dish are: red snapper, mojarra and tilapia.

Buen provecho!

Pescado Frito Colombiano (Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish)



  • 2 small whole tilapias or red snapper, cleaned and scaled
  • 1 scallions, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of vegetable or Canola oil for frying

Pescado Frito Colombiano (Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish)


  1. Rinse the fish in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 cuts on each side of the fish.
  2. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Rub the fish with the scallions and lime juice. Allow fish sit 10 minutes before cooking.
  3. Dredge fish with flour to coat. Pour oil into a large frying pan. The oil should be at least 1 inch deep.
  4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, you can test it by dropping in a small cube of bread. If it sizzles and cooks, it’s ready, or if you have a thermometer, the correct temperature is 375 F.
  5. Carefully place the fish in the oil, standing back in case the oil splatters, then turn the heat to medium.
  6. Fry the fish, without turning it, for about 5 to 7 minutes, or skin will break. Turn the fish and fry about 5 to 7 minutes more or until the skin is crispy.
  7. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and serve with patacones, rice, avocado and lime wedges on the side.
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  1. Ruby says

    Hola Erica, regrese de Cartagena hace menos de un mes donde pase 30 dias de vacaciones disfrutando la deliciosa gastronomia de mi amada ciudad especialmente el pescado frito que te preparan en los restaurantes en la playa, el coctel de camaron, las cocadas, etc. El pargo, mojarra, sierra, etc alla son tan frescos que puedes casi saborear el mar cuando los comes. Es mas, cada mañanita miraba a los pescadores tirar sus redes al mar. Aqui en USA, (vivo en Florida) he comido tilapia pero no entera sino en filete y la verdad es que no hay pescado aqui que tenga el fresco sabor del pescado de la Costa Colombiana. Pero siempre tratando de recrear nuestros platos tipicos, buscare en los mercados fresh whole tilapia. Gracias Erica, a traves de tus recetas nos tienes a todos, especialmente los Colombianos unidos. God bless you!

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