Whitefish fillets in lemon butter sauce

In good taste

Whitefish refers to any fish that has white flesh. However, the texture of the flesh can vary from delicate to medium to firm when cooked. The flavour of each variety differs too. For this recipe, Bangamary, Trout, Red or Grey Snapper, Snook and any other variety of whitefish available can be used. Given the quick-cooking nature of this recipe, it is highly recommended that you use fillets or other boneless steak cuts of fish.

The number of fillets to be used will vary, depending on the type of fish you are using, as some fish are larger than others. All you need to do is ensure that the number of pieces you are cooking can all hold comfortably in a single layer in the pan you will be using. Working as a guide, I am suggesting 2 fillets that can be cut into 4.

To make this a gluten-free dish, omit the dusting of the fish in flour.


Whitefish in lemon butter sauce (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Whitefish in lemon butter sauce (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)



2 whitefish fillets, halved, rinsed and patted dry

Salt and pepper to taste

All-purpose flour (optional – see directions below)

Vegetable oil

2-3 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter

Juice of 1 lemon or ½ large lime

1-2 tablespoons finely minced parsley or green onions




Season the fish with salt and pepper to taste. If using flour, very lightly dust the fillets with flour shaking off any excess.

Drizzle oil to just coat the bottom of a pan and place over medium heat until hot with just little wisps of smoke.

Add the fish to the pan – flesh side down and let cook for 2 minutes. Using a flat spatula lift the fish and flip it over. If the fish does not release easily it means that it is not ready yet to be turned, give it 30-45 seconds and then try again.

Cook the other side of the fish for 1-1 ½ minutes, in the meantime, add pats of butter on the cooked side and let it slide and baste the fish. Once the butter is melted, tilt the pan and baste the fish with the melted butter using a spoon until the fish is done cooking.

Shut off the heat and add the lemon or lime juice and mix in with melted butter; scrape off any stuck bits in the pan to incorporate in the sauce.

Sprinkle in parsley or green onions in the sauce and spoon over fish. Serve hot.



If you are using any fish with the skin on, score the skin-side of the fish to prevent it curling up in the pan when it meets the heat.

The cooking time for the fish will vary depending on the variety of fish and the size and thickness of the fillets. With fish, you can usually monitor how it is cooking – look at the sides of the fish as it is cooking, the cooked part gets white, use this as a guide to determine how much time you should give it to cook when you flip it.

With regard to the type of pan to use, a non-stick pan would work as well as a seasoned cast iron skillet or any pan that you use often that makes it easy to cook delicate foods and not have them stuck on.

The sauce for this recipe is not made in the quantity to be mopped up with anything, it is sauce to baste and flavour the fish.

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