Pan fried fish with herb butter sauce & crispy capers
When you have beautiful, fresher than fresh terakihi or snapper, it’s tempting to cook it with nothing but a bit of butter and lemon (that was our breakfast staple during our summer holidays at Great Barrier when I was growing up!) Sometimes, though, it’s nice to do something a little fancier – and if you’re entertaining, and this recipe is perfect. The fish is still the star of the show, but I’ve added a few lovely fresh flavours to take it from an everyday dish to something special. As always, it’s quick and easy to prepare – just don’t overcook the fish, the quality of the dish relies on it! This goes perfectly with a fresh green salad, or green beans in winter. Serves 4 .
4 large or 6 medium terakihi fillets (or use snapper)
1 tbsp cornflour
¼ cup capers, drained
Neutral oil (such as canola or rice bran), for frying
½ cup finely chopped fresh herbs – parsley, dill, basil, chives
1 clove garlic, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat 1cm of neutral oil in a very small frying pan or saucepan over a high heat. Add the drained capers and fry for a few minutes until the capers puff up and open out. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Heat the butter over a medium-low heat and add the garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes or so, but don’t brown the garlic. Add the lemon juice and zest and keep warm.
Season the fish with salt and pepper, then dust with cornflour (you can dredge it on a plate or shake in a bag). Shake off the excess.
Heat 1 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan over a fairly high heat. When the pan is hot and the butter foams, place a couple of fish fillets in the pan. Turn them over carefully only when the underside is golden brown, then cook on the other side for a minute or so – you actually want the fish to be only just undercooked when you take it out of the pan (it will finish cooking out of the pan). Rest the fish lightly covered with foil on a warm plate while you cook the rest (for best results, wipe out the pan and add a little more butter and oil for each batch of fish).
When you’re ready to serve, add the fresh herbs to the lemony butter and mix to combine, then taste and season with salt and pepper if need be.
Serve the fish on top of crispy baked or boiled potatoes, and spoon the herb sauce over top. Sprinkle with some fried capers. Serve with a salad or steamed veges.