Entree, Fish, Food, Recipes, Sauces

Fried Fish with Agristada – Sephardic Lemon and Egg Sauce

Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoAgristada, a velvety lemon and egg sauce, is one of the most loved sauces in Sephardic* cuisine, and one of my personal favorites. The sauce can be served warm or cold, and it is traditionally paired with fried fish, though also served with cooked fish, meatballs or steamed vegetables, especially artichoke.

The consistency of the sauce is pretty similar to mayonnaise, but it is much lighter, as it contains only a small amount of oil. The sauce is also perfect for those with lactose intolerance, as it doesn’t contain any dairy ingredients.

Some versions for the sauce start with a mixture of oil and flour (roux), for easier preparation. However, I still prefer the flavor and texture of the version I have here, even though it has a bit more risk of curdling.

Traditionally, a small amount of the strained oil in which the fish was fried in, is added to the prepared sauce. I’m aware of it that this addition sounds weird, but apparently there is a valid reason for this practice, as the oil adds a very unique nutty flavor to the sauce.
I’m sure you’ll think the same once you’ll try it.

* For more information about Sephardic origins and cuisine, see the introduction for THIS POST.

Check HERE for more recipes from the Sephardic cuisine.

A few more notes:
* I’ve used Tilapia fish, but any other fried fish you prefer can be used instead.
* I like the sauce very lemony, if you prefer it to be a bit milder, reduce the amount of lemon juice to ¼ cup.
* If despite of all your efforts the sauce still curdled, don’t despair. Strain it through a fine sieve and most likely you’ll be able to save it.
* The sauce can keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to two days.

Makes: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes for the fish, 15 minutes for the sauce

For the fried fish:
4 skinless, boneless, Tilapia fillets, cut in half lengthwise
1 L egg
2 Tbs water
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup flour
Oil for frying
For the Agristada Sauce:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups water
1 Tbs salt
1 L egg
1 Tbs water
¼ cup flour
For serving: lemon wedges, chopped parsley

1. The fried fish: wash and pat dry the fish pieces with paper towels. Whisk the egg with the water, salt and pepper. Add the flour and whisk to a smooth batter. Place the fish pieces in it and roll in the batter to cover from all sides.
Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso
2. Preheat oil for shallow frying in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the fish pieces and fry until golden-brown on both sides. Keep in a warm place until serving. Once the oil in the pan cools a bit, strain it through a fine sieve. Keep on the side, for the sauce.
Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso 
3. The sauce: in a medium size pot, mix the lemon juice, water and salt. Place on medium heat and bring to the boil.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the egg with the water, then add the flour. Whisk vigorously, until you get a lump-free paste.
Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso 
5. Take the pot with the hot lemon water off the heat. Add 1/8 of a cup of the lemon water to the egg paste, whisking vigorously to make sure the egg doesn’t curdle. Add another 1/8 cup and keep on whisking. Now add the egg mixture into the pot, whisking constantly. Place the pot back on medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Make sure not to let the sauce boil.
Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso
6. Transfer the sauce into a bowl and let cool a bit. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the strained oil on top, mix gently and keep in a warm place until serving.
Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso Fried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit PensoFried fish with Agristada Ronit Penso

64 thoughts on “Fried Fish with Agristada – Sephardic Lemon and Egg Sauce”

    1. Thank you Jack for your comment.
      Yes, I’ve mentioned that the sauce is also served with meatballs, and also with vegetables like artichokes.
      I love brains – healthy or not, if I could get them, I’d definitely have them…
      I understand you also come from Sephardic family? I hope this recipe brought back nice memories. 🙂


      1. I am Sephardic, born in Turkey, It did bring back memories,,,My mother, z’l” used to cook the various agristada recipes, in addition to the well established other Sephardic (also Ottoman) recipes which I now started to cook: the stuffed vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis); almodrotes (kalavasaz/zucchinis and berenjenas/eggplants); and now that Pesah is almost upon us Keftes de Prasas (leek patties), etc.


        1. How interesting! On my mother’s side we are a mix of Italian from Livorno and Turkish from Izmir, so I’m quite familiar with Ottoman dishes as well.
          I don’t keep Kosher, but I do love all these foods! I am trying to measure and write down the recipes in a more organized way (my aunts and mother would give instructions like “as much flour as needed!” 🙂 – and hope to keep this wonderful heritage alive, at least through food…
          You can look under the following link, for more of the Sephardic recipes I have on this blog. I hope you’ll enjoy them. I’ll be happy to hear your comments. 🙂


    1. Thank you Sheryl! It’s one of my favorite ways to serve fried fish.
      It’s also a very old recipe. In most Sephardic households it is cooked without measuring, just like a lot of the recipes you find in the old magazines. 🙂


    1. Sephardic dishes are almost the opposite of Indian dishes when it comes to the use of spices. They usually use fresh herbs and very few basic spices. The idea is to put an emphasis on the flavor of the main ingredient.
      I like both ways and I’m glad we live in a world where we can cook such a variety of dishes and be exposed to different traditions through it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Such a lovely recipe Ronit. My husband and I love fried fish. I specially like that you shallow fried then deep fried for some reason I am more comfortable with this technique 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nandini! I’m glad you liked the recipe. It’s one of my favorites.
      I’m actually more comfortable with shallow frying – guess it’s all about what we’re more used to. As long as it’s tasty, the method is less important! 🙂


  2. This is beautiful Ronit, you know I am so upset. I see that I follow your blog but have no recollection of ever seeing a notification come into my inbox, I am going to check to see that I have notifications on. I am blown away by your beautiful recipes and humbly apologize for just now seeing your posts.
    That said this dish is screaming at me, I have to make it. I love the Agristada. Just beautiful. Your blog is just gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Suzanne, I’m glad you like this family treasure! 🙂
      It happens sometimes to me too, when all of a sudden I notice that I’m missing posts from some blogs I follow. It’s very frustrating!
      You’re always welcome and I highly appreciate your comments. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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