Sauteed White Fish Fillets

Sauteed White Fish Fillets

Try this delicate dish with the Zucchini with Tomato and Basil for a light, healthy and delicious lunch or dinner.

Serves 4

When it comes to the size of a fish fillet, there are generally two categories: thick and thin. Thickness determines in part how long the fillet must be cooked. For the purpose of this recipe, we are putting fillets 5/8 inch to 1 inch thick in the thick category. To serve four, try to select four 6-ounce fillets; alternatively, use six 4-ounce fillets. In the thin category are fillets 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. If the fillets are small (about 3 ounces each), use eight; if they are slightly larger (about 4 ounces each), use six. Do not use fillets thinner than 1/4 inch, as they will overcook very quickly. Note that the sauce recipes are meant to be prepared before the fish fillets are cooked. The sauce is then held until serving.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4–6 boneless, skinless thick fish fillets (4 to 6 ounces each; see note) OR 6–8 boneless, skinless thin fish fillets (3 to 4 ounces each; see note)
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Place flour in baking dish or pie plate. Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels. Season both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper; let stand until fillets are glistening with moisture, about 5 minutes. If using any tail-end fillets, score and tuck tail under. Coat both sides of fillets with flour, shake off excess, and place in single layer on baking sheet.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking; place half of fillets in skillet in single layer and immediately reduce heat to medium-high. For thick fillets: Cook, without moving fish, until edges of fillets are opaque and bottoms are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. For thin fillets: Cook, without moving fish, until edges of fillets are opaque and bottoms are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Using spatula, gently flip fillets. For thick fillets: Cook on second side until thickest part of fillets is firm to touch and fish flakes easily, 2 to 3 minutes. For thin fillets: Cook on second side until thickest part of fillets is firm to touch and fish flakes easily (see page 11), 30 to 60 seconds.

4. Transfer fillets to serving platter and tent with foil. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet, increase heat to high, and heat until oil is shimmering but not smoking; repeat steps 2 and 3 to cook remaining fillets.

5. Place second batch of fillets on platter with first batch; tilt platter to discard any accumulated liquid. Serve fish immediately with sauce.

Coconut–Red Curry Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

For those who like assertive flavors, the amount of red curry paste can be doubled; in this case, be conservative when seasoning with salt and pepper.


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 3/4 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons red curry paste (see note)
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar 1 cup coconut milk
11/2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper
Lime wedges for serving

1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking; off heat, add garlic, ginger, curry paste, and sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil; boil until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm and set aside; stir once after about 1 minute.

2. To serve, stir sauce to recombine and spoon 1/2 cup over fish. Serve immediately with lime wedges, passing remaining sauce separately.