pan-seared fish with herb butter and lemon slices

Join Culinate

With a free Culinate membership, you can:

  • Create your own recipe collections
  • Queue recipes for later use
  • Blog your culinary endeavors
  • Be part of our online community of cooks
  • And much more…
Join Now

Pan-Grilled Fish

From the book Forgotten Skills of Cooking by
Serves 4


For pan-grilling you can use either olive oil or butter, but make sure the fish is completely dry before you apply it. Be sure to rinse and dry the grill pan between batches, too.



8 fillets (about 6 ounces each) of very fresh fish (such as mackerel, sea bass, grey sea mullet, or John Dory), skin attached and scales removed where necessary
~ Seasoned all-purpose flour and softened butter for the fish
~ Butter or olive oil for the pan


~ Flavored butter
~ Lemon wedges
~ Flat-leaf parsley sprigs


  1. First make the flavored butter of your choice.
  2. When ready to grill the fish, heat the grill pan. Just before cooking, but not earlier, dip the fish fillets in flour that has been seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pat each floured fillet between the palms of your hands to shake off the excess flour, and then spread a little soft butter evenly over the entire surface of the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread, and then put it flesh-side down diagonally on the pan. (I prefer to put the butter on the fish rather than on the pan, because otherwise all of the excess fat just burns around the edges.)
  3. When the color of the flesh has changed halfway up the fish, use an offset spatula to flip it over and cook the other side. There will be enough butter or oil on the grill pan to cook the second side. The cooked side should be nicely colored and golden.
  4. Continue to cook until it’s just cooked through, erring if you must on the slightly undercooked side, as the fish will continue to cook a little more from the residual heat.
  5. Put on a warm plate and serve immediately with a few slices of flavored butter and a wedge of lemon. The flavored butter may be served directly on the fish, or if you have a pretty oyster shell, place it at the side of the plate as a container for the butter. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

This content is from the book Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen.

There are no comments on this item
Add a comment

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [ "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer

Our Table

Joy of Cooking app

A new tool for the kitchen

The latest in our collection of cooking apps.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice