"Crispy Delight: Savor Our Pan Fried Cod"

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I love nothing more than giving myself a kitchen ego boost. With this easy technique, you're going to feel like a culinary king or queen behind the stove. Pan-fried cod fillets are seared with butter and finished with a handful of lemon and herbs. It's a dish that wouldn't be out of place in a restaurant, but wait a minute! Guess who created this five-star dish? It was none other than Y-O-U!

Easy pan fried cod with tomatoes and lemon

Cooking fish can be intimidating, which is why I'm happy to share recipes that simplify the process and give you tips for success. For instance, my Baked Salmon in Foil and Fish en Papillote (which is another great cod recipe) both use a packet approach to lock-in moisture and deter overcooking. My Fish and Chips, on the other hand, call on a panko breadcrumb coating to lock in moisture. For those who are interested, my cookbook, The Well Plated Cookbook, contains three of my favorite fish recipes ever. Dozens of folks have reported making them repeatedly since it was released. If you don't already have a copy, what are you waiting for?

Pan fried cod on a plate with tomatoes and herbs

Getting back to today's recipe, we will be using a simple lemon butter sauce to enhance the fillets with foolproof flavor. The sauce will cook right alongside the fish in the same pan. The final touch comes in the form of a bright lemon zest, followed by a handful of fresh herbs, which elevates this simple meal to something truly splendid.

Cooking with Cod

For those who aren't familiar with it, cod is a mild, firm-bodied fish. It's a great choice for beginners, as it's difficult to overcook, thanks to its natural oils. As its flavor isn't overly strong, kids tend to enjoy it more than other fish (my 2- and 5-year-old nieces love this Grilled Cod, for instance). Pickier adults may feel differently.

Cod is also good for you! It contains lots of protein, vitamin B, and minerals (read more about its health benefits here). If you don't care for cod or prefer to use this recipe with a different fish, you can substitute grouper, halibut, salmon, mahi-mahi, sea bass, haddock, or pollock. All of these are white, firm-bodied fish.

How to Make Pan Fried Cod

I've opted not to coat this pan-fried cod in breadcrumbs or flour, making it faster and less complicated to prepare. It's also a little lighter, leaving plenty of room for the lemon butter sauce to shine.

For those who are after a delectable pan-fried cod recipe with flour, simply swap the salmon in this Salmon Meuniere.

Fish fillets on a plate

Ingredients for a Mouth-Watering Dish

Two fish fillets in a skilletTwo fish fillets in a skillet

You'll need some lovely cod fillets, which are tender, flaky, and make the perfect complement to a zesty lemon butter herb sauce. We'll also need some salt, pepper, and a handful of fresh herbs like parsley, basil, dill, or thyme for an explosion of flavors and freshness. And let's not forget the lemon; its zingy, tangy goodness enlivens the entire dish.

A skillet with cod filletsA skillet with cod fillets

Directions to a Flawless Finish

Start by patting the cod fillets dry and seasoning them with some salt and pepper. Then, heat up some oil in a skillet over high heat. Once the skillet is piping hot, gently lay down the fillets and let them cook, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes. When it's time to flip, toss in some butter and baste the fish. Continue cooking until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Finally, top off your dish with some freshly chopped herbs and squeeze on some lemon juice. Voila—a delicious, succulent, and oh-so-flaky meal.

Cod fillets in a skillet with lemonCod fillets in a skillet with lemon

Guidelines to Keep the Cod from Sticking

The most challenging part of cooking cod on a stovetop is getting the fish to flip without breaking apart. Here are some helpful tips to keep your pan-fried cod from sticking:

  • Heat up your pan until it's sizzling hot before adding the fish.
  • Prep your cod fillets by drying them out and seasoning them with some salt and pepper before hitting the skillet.

Stay Put. Once you place your fish in the pan, resist the urge to move it around too much.

Don't Panic! Even if the cod does break apart, it will still taste amazing.

Seasoning Ideas for a Flavorful Cod

While a simple mixture of salt, pepper, lemon, butter, and herbs does the trick, the versatility of cod means you can play around with different seasonings to keep things exciting. Consider a spice blend like Old Bay, paprika, cumin, or coriander for some added flavors. Or, try a sweet and savory rub with brown sugar, garlic, and soy sauce. With the right seasoning, your cod dish is sure to stand out!

A plate of pan fried cod with tomatoes and lemonA plate of pan fried cod with tomatoes and lemon

Redefining Cod: A Trio of Bold Flavor Ideas

Elevate your cod game with these flavorful twists:

Lemon Garlic Butter Cod: Infuse minced garlic into melted butter and pour over cooked cod. The result? A tangy and aromatic dish.

Spicy Cod: For some kick, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes with the herbs.

Cajun Cod: Skip the salt and pepper and season with a Cajun-style blend instead. Keep in mind that the more seasoning you use, the saltier and spicier the fish will be, so adjust to your preference.

Pairing Suggestions for Pan Fried Cod

If you plan on wolfing down your cod fillets soon after they're cooked, then you're set! However, if you have leftovers or want to plan ahead, it's best to prepare enough for the day to avoid storing or reheating.

Pan fried cod with tomatoesPan fried cod with tomatoes

Storing: Put your remaining cod in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Reheating: Gently reheat the cod in a skillet over medium-low heat, making sure to only warm it up and not overcook it.

Leftover cod can be turned into something new and exciting by swapping it for salmon in our Salmon Patty Recipe.

More Delicious Fish Recipes

Essential Tools for Cooking This Recipe

To make our pan-fried cod, grab these essential tools: 2 6-ounce fillets of cod, halibut, bass, salmon, or any firm-bodied fish; 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt; 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper; 2 tablespoons of canola oil or grapeseed oil (avoid olive oil); 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter; 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs (try parsley, basil, dill or thyme); and 1 small lemon cut into wedges.

Begin by patting the fillets dry and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet and cook the fillets for 2-3 minutes on the first side until it's golden brown, then flip it over and cook it for another 2 minutes. Add butter and baste the fish with it before cooking it until it's opaque. Add fresh herbs and lemon juice and enjoy! If you prefer a stronger herb flavor, start with 1 tablespoon and increase according to taste.

For ultimate flavor and freshness, it is recommended to consume this recipe on the day it is prepared. However, if you have leftovers, consider trying a twist by replacing cod with salmon in our savory Salmon Patty Recipe.

STORING TIPS: Place any remaining cod in an airtight container and refrigerate it for a maximum of one day.

REHEATING INSTRUCTIONS: Gently reheat the cod in a pan over medium-low heat until it is gently warmed through.

This recipe is adapted from The New York Times and serves one of two people.

Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Potassium: 799mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1mg.

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Have You Tried This Recipe?

I'd love to see! Follow @wellplated on Instagram, snap a photo, and use #wellplated when you post. I'd be thrilled to see what you're whipping up!

Marvelous Meal Options

Hey there! I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm on a mission to save you time and simplify your dishes while still enjoying delectable, healthy meals on a budget. I am the recipe developer and author at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both veggies and sweets, and I'm excited to share my passion with you. Learn more about Erin and check out more fantastic recipe options.

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