Pan-fried whiting with burnt butter and herb salad

Neil Perry
Golden fillets: Pan-fried whiting with burnt butter.
Golden fillets: Pan-fried whiting with burnt butter. Photo: William Meppem

This is my favourite way to serve fish. It's perfect for whiting and sole, but fish like snapper, bream, blue-eye trevalla and coral trout are also good.

Ingredients

 8 whiting fillets

clarified unsalted butter

½ cup milk

½ cup plain flour

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

125g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 lemon, quartered

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Herb salad

1 cup mixed herbs (coriander, parsley, mint, dill and tarragon), roughly chopped 

1 small French shallot, finely sliced

2 spring onions, sliced into rounds

extra virgin olive oil

fresh lemon juice

Method

1. You will need to cook the fish in two batches, so warm the oven and have a plate ready for the fish. Take a large frying pan and check that all four fillets will fit at once. Put the pan over high heat, pour in enough clarified butter to cover the base of the pan and heat it to hot. Meanwhile, dip the fish fillets in milk, then in the flour and sprinkle with sea salt. When hot enough, add the fillets to the pan, skin side down, and cook for about one minute. Turn over and cook for a further minute. Transfer to a warm oven and repeat with the remaining fillets.

2. Mix together the herbs, shallots and spring onions. Just before serving, dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning.

3. When you are about to plate the fish, add the cubed butter to the pan over a high heat. Place two fillets on each serving plate, squeeze a little lemon juice over, sprinkle with parsley and some sea salt and add a good grind of pepper. When the butter in the pan turns nut brown, spoon it over the fish – the butter, parsley and lemon juice will mingle to create a delicious sauce. Serve immediately with the small herb salad on the side.

TIP
For thicker fillets, skip the milk and flour crust and place the fillets skin-side down in the pan. Push the fish down with another frying pan and cook the skin for about three minutes  then remove the pan, turn the fillet briefly to seal the underside and allow the fish to rest. It will be perfectly cooked with a crisp skin crust.