Wednesday, June 26, 2013

pan-fried white fish with lemon sauce

For dinner last night, I made pan fried fish fillet. This is a great way to cook fish - you get flavour without the fish being overly oily.

This is a really versatile recipe as you can use any combination of herbs that you like.

It also gave me the chance to use the Spanish smoked paprika that I love. Smoked paprika gives the dish a depth of flavour that cannot be achieved by regular paprika.

In a bowl, I combined the flour (I used plain flour), smoked paprika, salt, coarsely grounded pepper, the zest of a lemon and dried dill. I like the good old combination of fish and dill.

Using a whisk I mixed the spices, herb and flour.The mixture was placed on a plate and set aside.

I used sutchi fillets because I happened to have them in the freezer.

The fillets were dried as best as possible with some kitchen towels and dredged in the flour/spice/herb mixture.

In a heated pan, I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil and into the oil, I added a knob of butter. The olive oil will help to protect the butter from burning.

The fillets were placed in the oil and fried until the edges turned brown. Fish fillets are rather delicate so resist the urge to poke at the fish - leave it well alone until the edges turn brown!

Once both sides have browned, I drained the fillets on kitchen towel, and poured the juice of one lemon into the remaining oil. The juice would sizzle, and form a quick sauce with the butter and I drizzled some of this sauce of the fish to serve.

I served my fish with roasted potatoes, but that is a post for another day!

Pan-Fried White Fish (Serves 4)
Adapted from recipe by Chef Michael Smith

1 cup whole wheat or any flour
sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp any dried herb or spice
1 zest and juice of a lemon
4 - 6 (2 pounds) white fish fillets
large splash vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Butter

Preheat your largest, heaviest sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. A heavier pan will distribute the heat more evenly than a thin one.

Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper, paprika, herb and lemon zest.

Pour the seasoned flour into a shallow dish large enough to hold 1 or 2 fish fillets. Depending on the size of the fillets, and your guests’ inclination to share, cut the fish into individual portions or leave whole.
Dredge fillet pieces in the seasoned flour until they are evenly coated. Rest on a pan or plate but don’t stack them on top of one another.

Pour a large splash of vegetable oil into the pan, enough to cover the pan’s bottom in a thin film. Add the butter to the centre of the oil. The oil will protect the delicate butter from burning, and the butter will add lots of brown flavour. When the butter begins to brown and sizzle, swirl it around the pan and quickly add the fish fillets. Turn up the heat, adjusting it as needed to keep the pan sizzling hot.

Cook the fish in batches so they will all brown evenly. Cook the first side of the fillets for a few minutes until they’re golden brown and beautiful. Carefully flip them and continue with the other side. You may find it useful to add a bit more butter after you flip the fish over.
Continue until the fish cooks through. Add the lemon juice and swirl the pan. It will sizzle, form a quick sauce with the butter and coat each fillet. Serve immediately.


  1. Ooh! Yums! This is definitely something I can easily attempt!

    1. and you can substitute with whatever herbs you have too ;)

  2. hello! Just started reading your blog and you make cooking look so attractive (and easy!)

    I'm in awe of how you manage to cook AND take pictures at the same time; whenever I have to fry something I get very jumpy and keep hovering around the wok (hiding behind the lid) in case I get burnt heh heh.

    Will try this recipe soon! Will it work for market type batang fillets with skin on?

    1. Hey there, thanks for the feedback! I am really glad if I have been able to allay your fears (somewhat) of frying - I was the same when I started cooking, but found that it is really not as scary as I had thought!

      The thing about batang fillets is that the taste of batang is stronger so it would only work if you actually like stronger tasting fish (I do). Lemon and batang for me works really well, actually. Try it and let me know? :)