Pan-Seared Fish Filets with Lemon Caper Sauce

Many people are afraid to cook fish and end up just broiling it to death because they’re so piscatorially timid. This is an easy recipe that should take the fear out of the fish-challenged. The cooking time is about ten minutes and your family or guests will be very impressed. When pan-frying fish (or chicken and other proteins, for that matter), the portion should be placed into the pan skin-side down, which, once cooked, becomes presentation-side up. It’s natural for most home cooks to plate fish skin-side down but the proper way is to present portions of any fish the same way you’d see it in nature.

Feel free to use any variety of sustainable fish in this recipe. I used sea bream, a Mediterranean species (in this instance, from Cyprus) also known as dorade, which is one of my favourites.

By | March 01, 2016


Make the sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and butter. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper. Cook for one minute. Cover the pot and turn off the heat.

Pan-fry the fish: Meanwhile, heat an extra-large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Rub a bit of the oil onto the skin side of each fish filet. Season both sides of each filet evenly with the salt and pepper. Place the fish filets skin-side-down into the pan, pressing gently on the tops of the filets with a spatula for about one minute to ensure that the filets do not curl up in the middle. Cook until the skin is well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using two spatulas, gently turn the filets over. Cook until just firm to the touch, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the fish to a platter, skin-side up. Pour over the sauce and sprinkle with the chives. Garnish with the lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings


For the Sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter or one of the above-listed oils
  • 1  small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp drained and rinsed capers
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 6- to 7-ounce fish filets, skin on, rinsed and dried well
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 4 lemon wedges
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