Hot & Quick

How to Sauté the Perfect Fish

by Tina Miller

How to Sauté the Perfect Fish

Jocelyn Filley

Growing up on the Island I remember the fish we ate was usually cooked simply. It was broiled, baked, or fried. It was not high end or a health food, and it was not something we ate often.

Today, fish couldn’t be more popular, but I find many people still lack confidence when it comes to cooking it. There are many different types of fish, and equally as many ways to prepare them. There is soft tender flounder, big steaky tuna and everything in-between, all requiring different methods of cooking.

One of my favorite ways to cook fish is sautéing, which I first learned while working at an old Island restaurant, the Ocean Club at Five Corners. I usually sauté soft white fish (like Cod or Flounder) because the fish develops a golden light crust on the outside, yet the filet inside is tender and full of flavor.

When sautéing there are a few things to know. Sautéing is hot and quick. When you sauté fish, you need to leave it alone. Don’t poke or move around. I turn the fish only once, after which I finish it in the oven to ensure even cooking throughout. Follow these guidlines to ensure a perfectly cooked piece of fish.

Basic Sauté Guidelines

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Be sure fish filet is dry.
  3. Lightly season fish. I use a mixture of flour, salt and pepper and mixed dried spices; Adobo, lemon peppers, any spice mix you like.
  4. Heat a good heavy pan, like cast iron, on medium-high.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil or grape seed oil and 2 tablespoons butter. I like to use both; butter adds flavor and golden color, and the oil will keep the fish from burning.
  6. Shake off any excess flour or spice mixture. I like a very light coating.
  7. Start with your presentation side down first, either the top of the filet or, if there is skin, you can sear that first. Gently lay your fish filet in a heated pan. Give a light shake of the pan and let cook for a few minutes until golden on the edges. You can baste the fish with the butter and oil mixture from the pan, but don’t move the fish.
  8. Using a spatula, carefully turn your filet. Only once! When presentation side is up, place in 400°F oven for 2-4 minutes, depending on thickness.
  9. Serve with wedge of lemon or lime.