Asian/ ENTREES/ Seafood

Commander Tso’s Cod

Celebrate the Chinese New Year on Jan. 25 with this better-than-take-out twist on a classic.

According to The New York Times General Tso’s chicken is not really named for Tso Tsungt’ang, a 19th-century general. Although, he is believed to have enjoyed the dish, this ubiquitous offering traces its roots to Peng Chang-kuei, a chef who created the dish in 1950s Taiwan. Later, when he moved to the United States in 1973, he brought his recipe along with him. Once here, he sweetened it to appeal to Americans.

Here I have replaced the chicken with cod and toned down the sweetness just a bit. But feel free to add more sugar if you like. And because I love a good alliteration, I’ve named it Commander Tso’s Cod — after no one in particular.

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Serves: 2


  • For the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • chili flakes to taste
  • ½-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • For the fish
  • 12 ounces cod filets
  • 2 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Oil for frying (peanut or any neutral oil)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish



Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.


To prepare the fish, cut each filet into bite sized pieces. Add the soy sauce and egg yolk and mix well. Stir in the corn starch and 2 teaspoons neutral oil and set aside.


Pour the peanut oil into a large wok or large frying pan. (You want enough oil so it comes up at least half way on the fish.) Set over high heat until the oil is hot. (I test the oil by putting a damp toothpick in the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready) Add half the fish and fry until crispy and golden. Using a slotted spoon, move the fish to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the fish. Pour the oil into a heatproof container and wipe the wok or pan clean.


Place the wok or pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the reserved sauce. It will thicken a little as it cooks. Return the fish to the wok and stir carefully to coat. You don’t want the fish to break up. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and top with scallions. Serve with rice and roasted Brussels sprouts.


For the Brussels sprouts


Trim one pound of Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rimmed sheet-pan in the oven to get hot.


Toss the Brussels sprouts in a mixing bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of a neutral oil and kosher salt to taste.


Carefully remove the sheet-pan from the oven and spread the Brussels sprouts on the sheet-pan cut side down. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes until they are brown and crispy on the cut side.

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