Sautéed Fish in Butter

Few main dishes can compete with fresh, beautifully prepared fish for taste, simplicity, health, and elegance. When our daughters were very young, my husband and I started a tradition of having a meal alone once a week or once every two weeks. Because there are no kosher restaurants within 150 miles of our home, we wanted to make this like a "night out" but in our own home. The best way I could think of implementing the plan was to plan meals that would feel and taste elegant but not take hours of preparation and cleanup. We put the girls in bed, set an elegant table with candlelight, and proceded to open a good bottle of wine, heat some excellent bread, and quickly sauté a fresh piece of fish. To complete the meal, I added some young asparagus or broccoli, a small salad, and a simple chocolate dessert.


This works very well with any firm fish, cut about 1/2 inch thick, with or without skin and bones. The idea is to cook the fish to perfect doneness without overcooking and without losing the moisture. If the fish is very different in thickness, adjust the timing overall. Use the "Canadian" timing method of about 10 minutes direct heat cooking time per inch of fish.

Wash fish well, and pat dry. Dredge with a mixture of flour, paprika, and garlic. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy skillet at medium high heat. When the butter foams with a speck of flour added, carefully lay the fish in the skillet. Sauté the fish on one side until crispy and brown. Turn the fish, cook for 1 minute and cover the skillet. Remove the skillet from the heat. The residual heat in the pan will cook the other side of the fish in about 5 minutes. Check the fish for doneness (see that it flakes with a fork) before removing from pan.

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