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Pan Fried Fish with Lemon and Parsley

posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister
difficulty rating

If you are wondering what to cook for dinner tonight, pan-fried fillets of fish take less than 12 minutes to prepare and cook. Add in some steamed vegetables and maybe even some rice or potatoes and a tasty (and healthy) dinner is all ready!

This method of pan frying is great for cooking fish like salmon, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, bluefish, cod, catfish, butterfish, and lots more!

The fish I’m about to prepare is called Kona Kampachi and was sent to me from Kona Blue in Hawaii! (Mahalo!)

(“The Latin name of this fish is Seriola rivoliana. The species is also referred to by various common names around the world including: Kahala, Almaco jack, Songoro amberjack & Medregal”)

In the two years I have been working on I have only ever received a product sample once before. I had never even heard of this fish, so I decided to give it a try.

WOW! It is probably one of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever prepared. It had a rich, mild flavor, a bit sweet almost, and a very firm texture. In order to appreciate the full flavor of this fish, I cooked it in the simplest form possible- with just salt, pepper, lemon and parsley.

The result was extraordinary! If you happen to see this at your local store or fishmonger, give it a try. You won’t be sorry.


I like to buy my fish no more than one day in advance of cooking it. Fish needs to be fresh to be at its best.

If you don’t already have them in your refrigerator, be sure to pick up some fresh parsley and a lemon as well!

Here’s a quick preview of how I prepared this fish:

  • Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  • Fry it in a small amount of regular olive oil.
  • Wipe out the pan, melt some butter, add lemon juice and parsley, pour it on the fish… and that’s it!

Be sure to use regular olive oil. Extra virgin or virgin olive oil can burn if they are used to fry food at too high of a temperature. Vegetable or peanut oil would be OK to use as well.

The lemon and parsley need to be prepared before starting to fry the fish.

Let’s startcooking!

Begin by:

These three ingredients for the sauce get set aside for the moment.

By running my (clean!) fingers over the top of the fish I discovered that my fish fillet still had some “pin bones” in it. These bones are sharp and extremely difficult to remove without either a strong pair of tweezers or a pair of pliers.

Strange as it may seem to beginners, I keep a pair of pliers, as well as rulers and a pair of scissors in the kitchen. (For kitchen use only!) They come in very handy.

This nice big one-and-a-half-pound piece of fish is too much for just my husband and me to have for dinner, so I cut it into five pieces. (I cooked two pieces and froze the remaining three.)

In the photo below, each “cut” (or slice) weighs about 4.5 ounces.

The four cuts in a row are all about 1 inch thick. The remaining piece is only about 1/2 inch thick, and will require less cooking time. (BTW, this fish came with the skin already removed.)

Next, I sprinkled some salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper on each piece of fish.

Many people like to dredge, or lightly coat, the fish in a very small amount of flour to ensure an extra crispy finish.

However, that’s a matter of preference and it’s not absolutely necessary. The fish I’m using, along with fish like salmon, tuna, swordfish and mackerel, has some fat content on their own and browns beautifully without adding the flour coating.

The fish is now ready and the ingredients for the sauce have been prepared.

I preheated my non-stick pan on medium-high heat for about one minute. Then, I added 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pan and heated the oil until it started to shimmer – about 1 minute.

Rather than adding the oil to the pan, I could have brushed the oil onto the fish itself.

When you put the fish in the pan be careful it does not splatter back at you. To avoid getting splattered by the oil, make sure that the side of the fish nearest you is placed on the pan first, and then gently lower the slice so that the side away from you touches the pan last.

If your fish slice has skin, then skin-side down first will ensure a really nice, crispy skin which many people love!

Cooking time on each side depends on the thickness of the fish and how well done you like your fish.

For a 1-inch thick piece of fish (like salmon) it’s necessary to cook it for approximately 4-to-5 minutes on the first side.

Then, you flip the fish over and continue cooking for approximately:

  • 1-2 minutes = Medium Rare to Medium
  • 3-4 minutes = Medium to Medium Well
  • 5 minutes = Well Done (some might say totally over cooked!)

Turn the fish only once.

Knowing how long to cook the fish can be tricky. Several factors will influence the cooking time, such as the temperature of the pan, the density of the fish, the shape of the fish, the thickness, and the starting temperature of the fish.

So how do you know if the fish is cooked? It should turn opaque (non-transparent) in color. Cut it open and have a look to see if it is cooked to your liking. Or gently prod the fish with a small sharp knife to see if it separates into small pieces (flakes).

Overcooked fish will get really dry and tough.

When the fish is cooked, turn off the stove, remove the fish from the pan and place it either on plates or a serving dish.

Now, wipe the pan out with a paper towel and a pair of tongs.

On medium heat, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in the pan and then turn off the heat.

Add the lemon juice…

And the parsley…

And give the pan a swirl.

For the parsley to stay bright green, immediately pour the sauce over the fish and…dinner’s ready!

P.S. I also served my fish with steamed vegetables, chopped sweet red pepper, and some mashed potatoes.


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zephyr said:

Looks good and easy…I’m gonna try it.Thanks!

startcooking said:

Hi Zephyr, this pan fried fish recipe is indeed quick, easy and very tasty!

raj said:

thanks lot ………..
it really tasted awesome ……………

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