Pan-Roasted Fish with Herb Compound Butter

Southern Kitchen

Pan-Roasted Fish with Herb Compound Butter

Pan Roasted Fish With Herb Compound Butter

Serves: 2

Hands On Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


Herb Compound Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

3 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pan-Roasted Fish

2 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on red snapper fillets

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil


To make the compound butter: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the fish: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating, pat the fish fillets dry with a paper towel. Flip the fillets so that they are skin-side up and make three small slashes in the skin, making sure not to cut into the flesh. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. 

Add the olive oil to the hot skillet and heat until shimmering. Gently place the fish in the skillet, skin-side down, and lightly press the top with a fish spatula to ensure all of the skin touches the hot skillet. Cook until the skin is crisp, about 4 minutes. 

Carefully flip the fish and cook the flesh side until the fish is fully cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a serving plate with the skin side up. 

Scoop about 1 tablespoon of butter onto each of the fish fillets. Serve immediately.

Photo Credit: Ideabar Austin

About the recipe

A compound butter is a simple way to add flavor and moisture to delicately cooked fish. Save extra for serving on toast, more fish or on steaks.

When purchasing fish, your fishmonger can help you determine the freshest fish you can buy, even if red snapper is not available. If you’re purchasing fish that has already been filleted, ask to smell the fish first. It should smell clean and of the ocean, not “fishy.” When the flesh has been touched, it should spring back slightly and not appear mushy. Your fishmonger can also fillet a whole fish for you. When selecting a whole fish, look for clear, not cloudy eyes. Choose fish with bright red gills, and avoid those with any brown coloration.

When cooking the fish, a good rule of thumb for judging cooking time is to allow 6 minutes per inch of thickness of the fillets.