Try this pan-roasted fish with herb compound butter when you're going meat-free

Southern Kitchen

This recipe calls for red snapper, but your fishmonger can help you determine the best and freshest substitute if it's not available.

If you’re purchasing fish that's already been filleted, ask to smell it first. It should smell clean and of the ocean, not “fishy" and should spring back slightly when pressed gently.

Your fishmonger can also fillet a whole fish for you. When shopping for whole fish, look for clear, not cloudy, eyes and bright red gills.

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

The compound butter in this recipe adds flavor and moisture to delicately cooked fish. If there's some left over, spread it on toast, more fish, or even on steaks.

Serves: 2


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.