Pan Fried Fish

What You Need

1 6- to 8-ounce white fish fillet per person, such as tilapia (pictured), cod, bass, grouper, haddock, catfish or snapper (worked great for rainbow trout)
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
To serve: lemon wedges, minced herbs, capers, etc.

Skillet, non-stick, cast-iron, or stainless steel
Fish spatula or other thin spatula, for flipping


  1. Pat the fish dry: Use a paper towel to pat the fish dry on both sides.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper: Sprinkle the top of the fish generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Warm the oil in the skillet: Warm the olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. The pan is ready when a flick of water sizzles on contact with the pan.
  4. Lay the fish in the hot pan: Lay the fish, seasoned-side down, in the pan. (It will probably bow up as the proteins contract – you can either hold down for a few seconds with the spatula or put a clean-bottomed pan on top for a minute)
  5. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes: Cook the fish for 2 to 3 minutes without moving it. When ready to flip, the underside should look golden and crispy. It should also release fairly easily from the pan using a fish spatula. (Not a problem in an non-stick skillet!)
  6. Season the other side of the fish: While the first side cooks, season the other side with salt and pepper.
  7. Flip the fish and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes: Flip the fish to the second side and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. When ready, the fish will be opaque all the way through and flake apart easily.
  8. Serve immediately: Serve the fish while still hot from the pan with any finishing garnishes. White fish can often be very flakey after cooking; don’t worry if it flakes apart a bit as you serve it.

Leave a Reply