Cook White Fish On The Stovetop For A Quick And Easy Meal

Elevate your go-to cod recipe and get weeknight dinner on the table even faster in one swoop by cooking your white fish on the stovetop. You might not immediately think of the stove as the best cooking element for fish, but those moist, flaky, firm-yet-delicate filets are artfully showcased by a fry, saute, or butter-poach (which Michael White has tips for). Whether tilapia, cod, bass, catfish, snapper, grouper, halibut, sole, hake, or haddock is on the menu, the stovetop is the tool for the job.

The key to cooking white fish in a pan or skillet is making sure your filets are thin enough to cook all the way through. Larger filets are also more liable to tear apart when you flip them, so be sure to slice larger cuts in half lengthwise before throwing them on the stove. Plus, more surface area means more space for flavorful marinade or crispy breading.

Fill a pan with a generous amount of butter or neutral oil and season your white fish filets. You can leave the skin on or take it off, whichever you prefer. Thoroughly warm the pan over medium-high heat, carefully drop in your filets, and whip out your fish spatula (the favorite kitchen tool of "Chopped" host Ted Allen). Roughly 3 to 4 minutes on each side should get the job done. Just keep an eye out for a golden brown hue and take care not to overcook, which can erase the flavor and dry out the fish.

You stove is the star for white fish that's the moistest with the mostest

A cast iron skillet can be a particularly helpful tool for maintaining even temperature while cooking over high heat, which lends to filets that are crispy, golden, and flaky with the flavor locked-in. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, opt for your heaviest pan, which will more evenly distribute heat. A non-stick skillet will also totally work for cooking white fish on the stovetop. For best results, opt for a 12-inch skillet, which will be large enough to give those delicate filets plenty of room to cook and be handled without crowding.

6-8 ounces of white fish per person is a standard serving size, and from there, the fun part is the customization. You could pan-fry your white fish in a simple breading of salt, pepper, flour and olive oil or dress it in freshly-squeezed lemon juice and New Orleans-style Crystal hot sauce. Or, season your sauteed white fish with Old Bay, lemon pepper, crispy cornmeal breading, and even tartar sauce or remoulade (not to be confused with aioli). Jacques Pépin prefers his cod marinated in a miso and mirin glaze. For bolder flavor, plate it with salty capers, sauteed Swiss chard, fresh cabbage slaw, garlic butter, mango salsa, or fresh thyme.