Pan roasting fish creates a fillet with crispy skin and a moist interior. Paired with lemon, wine, and fried capers, this dish is perfectly balanced between acid, fat, salt, and some umami punch.
I use skin on striped bass for this recipe, but almost any thick fish fillet will work, skin on or off. Perfectly cooked striped bass is a near perfect food. These delicious fish offer large, semi-firm flakes with a hint of brackish sweetness. They’re the most sought-after fish in the Chesapeake Bay for good reason.
This recipe is rich without being heavy, with plenty of acidity to pair with warm summer evenings. As an added bonus, I only use one pan for the fish and sauce, so less cleaning up and more time for messing with the boat and the tackle after dinner.
The fried capers offer a salty, crispy, and slightly funky pop. I make a batch of these ahead of time and store them in a paper towel lined container. They will stay crispy for a few days, but if they start to get soft you can always dunk them in some hot oil to crisp them back up.
- 2 striped bass fillets
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. fried capers
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat with a small amount of oil. Season fish fillets. Place the fillets in the hot pan, skin side down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crisp.
- Flip the fillet over and cook for 1 minute, then place in the center of the oven. After 1 minute, add the butter to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes. Roasting time for this recipe is for a fillet about ¾-inch thick. Add time if using thicker fillet, subtract time if using a thinner fillet.
- Pull the pan from the oven, remove fish from the pan and allow it to rest. Scrape the pan, stir in the wine and lemon juice, cook over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Top fish with sauce and capers and serve. If using skin on fish, don’t pour the sauce on the skin to keep it crispy.
- Heat oil to 375°F for frying.
- Strain capers into a small sieve that will fit into the frying oil. Dunk the capers into the oil while still in the sieve. The oil will hiss and bubble a lot at first and will subside as the water evaporates. Fry for 60 to 90 seconds until there is very little bubbling and capers are crispy.
- Spread out on a paper towel, season lightly with fine salt to help keep them crispy.