In an array of colors and freshness this pan fried yellowtail is more a Mediterranean style of cooking. Love this recipe and it's also healthy, easy to make and rather impressive for family and guests alike. It's loaded with color, flavor and fragrance!
There are so many different ways to cook fish and although I love all cooking, seafood has a particular nostalgia for me. My dad was an avid fisherman with a rod longer and larger than the ocean, almost daring the catch and catch he would❤️ What a time...open fires and fresh fish that didn't cost an arm and a leg.
Back to the this pan fried yellowtail dinner that's really easy to prepare so let's get to it shall we, after-all that's the reason you are here 🙂
More About How To Buy Fish
Now let's talk a little about buying fish, what to buy and what to look out for. Most of it may be general knowledge but it's still good to hear.
Never be afraid to ask the lady/man (fishmonger) behind the fish counter for help and as many questions as possible, trust me they're usually very helpful. If not, then you should buy your fresh fish from someone who is willing to help you.
- Have a quick look at the eye's of the fish, they should be nice and bright and plump
- The flesh is bright color and scaly
- They will scale it for you, clean the guts out and rinse it properly for you before packing it up
- That's it! And while they do that you can look an learn or chat and ask questions - normally this is when I go and get the white wine because the two are the perfect combination. And I need it for the sauce.
Ingredients For Pan Fried Fish
Starting with the ingredients, here is what you will need and some tips on suggestions.
Yellowtail fish (you can substitute with any white fish like sole, monkfish and swordfish.
Butter: My suggestion is to use unsalted butter it helps you control the overall flavors.
Olive oil: A good quality olive oil works well in this recipe. We use this one
Fish seasoning: Make sure to taste your seasoning if using store bought and check for the salt content before adding salt & pepper. We use this all natural fish seasoning.
Salt & pepper: See above notes before adding.
Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes work best in this recipe and if you want to get more color use the mixed color cherry tomatoes. Those are stunning in summer especially the red against the yellow although they never seem to have enough green little ones in there.
Olives: This recipe uses mixed olives but please use any olives you like.
White wine: Dry crisp white wine goes well with fish especially in summer and use your preferred choice.
Fresh lemon: Always try and use fresh lemon as opposed to bottled although it does work the more fresh your ingredients, the better the overall taste.
How To Make Pan Fried Fish
This recipe comes together very quickly so to all those who have not cooked fish before, here's my advice, don't overthink it.
Prepare the Fish: Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the fish seasoning evenly on both sides of each fillet. Lightly season the fillets with salt.
Pan-Fry the Fish: Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Adjust the cooking time based on the thickness of the fillets.
Remove the Fish: Once the fish is cooked, transfer the fillets to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Prepare the Tomato and Olive Mixture: In the same skillet, add a bit more olive oil if needed.
Add the halved cherry tomatoes and mixed olives. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes start to soften.
Deglaze with White Wine and Lemon Juice: Pour in the white wine and fresh lemon juice, stirring to deglaze the pan. Let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Finish: Add the unsalted butter to the skillet and stir until melted and well combined.
Serve: Spoon the tomato and olive mixture over the pan-fried fish. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired. Serve the pan-fried fish hot, drizzling the pan juices over the top.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooking Fish
How do I know when fish is cooked?
Fish is cooked when it becomes opaque and easily flakes with a fork. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C). Cooking times vary based on the thickness of the fillet or steak.
What are some good seasoning options for fish?
Fish pairs well with a variety of seasonings, including lemon, garlic, herbs (such as dill, parsley, or thyme), paprika, cumin, and black pepper. Do yourself a favor and invest in clean spices and learn to read labels carefully.
Is it better to bake, pan-fry, or grill fish?
The cooking method depends on personal preference. Baking is a healthy option, pan-frying adds a crispy texture, and grilling imparts a smoky flavor. Choose the method that suits your taste and dietary preferences.
How can I prevent fish from sticking to the pan?
Ensure the pan is well-heated before adding the fish. Use a non-stick pan or add a thin layer of oil to the pan. Pat the fish dry before cooking, as excess moisture can cause sticking.
Can I use frozen fish, or is fresh better?
Both fresh and frozen fish can be used. If using frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator before cooking. Freshness is crucial for flavor, so choose the best-quality fish available.
What's the best way to remove fishy odors from the kitchen?
Cooking fish in well-ventilated areas can help disperse odors. You can also neutralize lingering smells by simmering a pot of water with lemon slices, vinegar, or baking soda.
How do I know if fish is sustainable?
Look for certification labels such as MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) or ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council). These labels indicate that the fishery or farm meets certain sustainability standards. If you are interested there is an informative video on Youtube and a full article on sustainability from SeaHarvest South Africa.
Can I marinate fish for too long?
While marinating enhances flavor, too much time in acidic marinades (containing citrus, vinegar, etc.) can affect the texture of delicate fish. Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour for most fish.
What sides go well with fish?
How can I add a crispy texture to fish without deep-frying?
For a crispy texture, try pan-frying with a light coating of flour or breadcrumbs. Alternatively, bake the fish at a high temperature for a shorter time or use a hot grill.
More Seafood Recipes
Remember to adapt the guidelines in this post, based on the specific type of fish you're working with and your personal preferences. Enjoy!
Looking for more recipes?
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Pan Fried Yellowtail Recipe
- 500 grams fish
- 1 tbsp. fish seasoning
- olive oil
- salt as needed
- 70 grams butter, unsalted (4 to 5 tablespoons)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅓ cup mixed olives
- ⅓ cup white wine
- juice of a fresh lemon
- Prepare the Fish: Thoroughly pat the fish dry making sure there is little to no dampness left. Season well with fish spice or salt & pepper, any. If using fish seasoning, taste for salt levels before adding salt. We used this fish seasoning.500 grams fish, 1 tbsp. fish seasoning, salt as needed
- Pan-Fry the Fish: Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Adjust the cooking time based on the thickness of the fillets.olive oil
- Remove the Fish: Once the fish is cooked, transfer the fillets to a plate (you can tent with foil to keep warm).
- Prepare the Tomato and Olive Mixture: In the same skillet, add a bit more olive oil if needed. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and mixed olives. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes start to soften.½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved, ⅓ cup mixed olives
- Deglaze with White Wine and Lemon Juice: Pour in the white wine and fresh lemon juice, stirring to deglaze the pan. Let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.⅓ cup white wine, juice of a fresh lemon
- Finish: Add the unsalted butter to the skillet and stir until melted and well combined.70 grams butter, unsalted (4 to 5 tablespoons)
- Serve: Spoon the tomato and olive mixture over the pan-fried fish. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired. Serve the pan-fried fish hot, drizzling the pan juices over the top. Garnish with fresh parsley, chives or onions.
- Heat the oil and melt the butter in a non stick pan and place the seasoned fish into the hot fat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes OR
- Heat only the oil and cook for roughly 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Retaining Heat: Tenting the fish with foil helps to retain the heat and keep the fillets warm. This is especially important when you're preparing multiple components of a dish, as it ensures that the fish stays at an optimal serving temperature while you finish any remaining steps.
- Resting Period: Allowing the fish to rest for a few minutes after cooking is very good regardless of whether you're making a sauce or not. This step allows the residual heat to continue to cook the fish slightly, and the juices redistribute within the fillet. This helps to ensure that the fish remains moist and flavorful when you serve it.