Pan-roasting is a great way to cook thick white fish fillets and steaks. Since salmon and tuna are best served rare or medium-rare, they can be pan-seared without a trip into the oven. However, thick white fish, such as halibut, cod, sea bass, or red snapper, must be cooked through and that can cause quite a mess on the stovetop. Starting these white fish in a hot skillet on the stovetop and then transferring the skillet to the oven ensures that the crust is well browned and the interior is cooked but moist. It also reduces cooking time on the stove to just a few minutes, so the mess is minimal.
In order to promote browning without drying out the exterior of the fish, we found it helpful to sprinkle one side of each fillet with a little sugar. This sugared side of each fillet goes into the hot pan first and after just a minute or two a nicely browned crust has formed, without toughening the exterior of the fish as can occur when browning is prolonged.
As for serving, you can keep it simple and just offer lemon wedges. Or, dollop some compound butter, a potent sauce, or chunky vinaigrette over each fillet. We will be making a roasted red pepper and hazelnut relish, but any thick, highly flavorful sauce or relish will work.
Total Cooking Time: 30
Preparation Time: 20
Active Cooking Time: 10
Make Ahead: Serve immediately
Yield: 4 servings