Friday, March 3, 2017


Betcha that title caught your eye, eh?

Blame it on the fish department at our supermarket: they slipped in a fish I’d never heard of. Yup, Sweetlips. 

Sweetlips, aka Plechtorhinchus, is a genus of grunts (oh, this just keeps getting better), which tends to live on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific (Indonesia). They like to hang out with each other, or with other fish. One cool fact: their coloring and patterning change throughout their lives (google the images—there are some wonderful ones). Sounds like a pretty, friendly fish—with big fleshy lips.

[Note: most of the online articles cite their suitability for aquariums before considering them as food. Now I feel guilty about cooking it.]

But what was in the store was not a cute patterned fish with big lips, it was a mound of filets. Our favorite fish person did something smart: she sauteed a bunch with a marinade and handed out free bite-size samples. It tasted good! It’s a nice mild-flavored, slightly flaky fish, and holds together well when you cook it.

What the heck, we’re having sweetlips for dinner!

Sweetlip Filets with Asian Sauce

(this recipe should serve 4—as usual I cut it in half)


2 lbs sweetlip filets
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
3 Tblsp teriyaki sauce
2 Tblsp fish sauce
1 tblsp brown sugar

Oil for frying

If you’re craving a bit of spice, you can thinly slice a red chile and add that at the end, or sliced scallions for color. I didn’t have a fresh chile on hand, so I added a dash of some kind of red pepper sauce (that name was the only English on the label!).

What the heck, it
might taste good!


Heat the oil in a sautee pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened.

Add the teriyaki sauce, fish sauce, ginger and sugar and simmer for a few minutes until it thickens a little.

Add the fish filets to the pan (turn them in the pan to cover with the sauce), reduce the heat to low, and steam/simmer until the fish is cooked (the filets are thin, so it shouldn’t take long).

Garnish with the sliced chili and scallions if you’re using them. Serve with steamed rice and a green vegetable.

Eleven days and counting until the release of Cruel Winter, the fifth County Cork Mystery! (Will winter be over by then?)

What do you do when you're snowed in at a pub in Ireland? You talk, you drink, you make some music--and you solve an old murder.

Available for pre-order at Amazon ad Barnes and Noble. And still on sale!

(And coming soon--a major update for my website!)


  1. I love fish, but I never buy it to cook at home because the rest of my picky family won't eat it! But it sounds yummy!

  2. This recipe is an easy one, and would probably work with any white fish you find--the fish doesn't have a very strong flavor, and you can add whatever sauce you think your family will eat.

    I had a funny conversation with our supermarket fish person Sabine, who's become a friend. She said the People Upstairs at her market chain just shipped them a batch of sweetlips, with no explanation. Of course nobody at our local store had ever heard of it. Sabine thinks they'll send the promo material to go with it eventually. In the meantime I gave it a good review.

  3. Fish lips?! Too perfect! AND sweet, too.
    I'd bet the promo materials arrive after this fish stops being offered!

  4. I already received your book from Amazon. I'm reading it this weekend.

  5. You are a brave soul. Fishlips and a sauce with hardly any English. Thanks for the laugh and what should be a good recipe. Just keep those fish out of my aquarium, lol

    1. My daughter has been bringing home weird sauces for quite a while, which explains the unreadable ones, plus a few more. Although I confess that I have a couple of jars of spice with Russian labels, because there's this Russian market near this really good bookstore. . . Of course, that market also sells packages of chicken feet, which I've resisted so far.