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Pan-Fried Snapper & Creamy Herb Sauce Recipe

Impress with this easy, fancy fish dinner curated by French Canadian pro spearfisher Valentine Thomas.

Pan-Fried Snapper & Creamy Herb Sauce Recipe

With a few ingredients, minimal prep and a whole snapper, you can make a delicious fish dinner for your boo, or just for you. We won't tell.

Print Recipe

This recipe using a whole mangrove snapper is absolutely fantastic and there is no waste since the whole fish is being used! They are the perfect size to make a dinner for two and they taste amazing. It looks bougie as all get out, requires minimal prep and is easy to make even though it looks like you’ve put some hard work into it. This is the perfect dish to impress your better half, especially if you need to make up for something. Best of all, it’s downright delicious.

valentine thomas with a filleted mangrove snapper
Don’t toss that carcass! That’s the perfect ingredient for a flavorful fish stock, the secret to this savory dinner. Photo Credit: Valentine Thomas Instagram

You don’t need all of these ingredients to make a great sauce. This is meant to be an easy recipe so throwing in what you have at home is more than good enough and will create an awesome dish regardless.

valentine thomas with a spearfished mangrove snapper
Although this recipe calls for mangrove snapper— sea bass, lionfish, hogfish, yellowtail, mutton or any other flaky fish fillet will work perfectly. Photo Credit: Valentine Thomas Instagram

Note: Like any other fish with a bigger bloodline, bleeding your fish and properly caring for your catch is important to preserve the taste and color of a mangrove snapper fillet.

Pan-Fried Snapper & Creamy Herb Sauce Recipe

Pan-Fried Snapper with Cream Sauce
Throw on a little chopped parsley garnish and an edible flower and you've got a restaurant-worthy meal, without even breaking a sweat.

Ingredients

Snapper Fish Stock

  • Snapper carcass (or similar fish)
  • ½ white onion
  • ½ leek
  • 2 celery stalks 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig of thyme and/or parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup white wine

Creamy Herb Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups of fish stock*
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • ½ shallot
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream 
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch, diluted in 1 tbsp of water

*Didn’t catch a fish? Store-bought stock works in a pinch, but I recommend still boiling it with some herbs and veggies before use.

Directions




valentine thomas filleting a mangrove snapper
Mangrove snapper fillets are the perfect size to make a dinner for two. Photo Credit: Valentine Thomas Instagram

1. Fillet the fish like you normally would, on both sides.

2. On medium heat, add a drizzle of oil and fry the fish carcass in a pot with all your stock ingredients.

3. When the fish starts to brown and the veggies are fragrant, add a splash of white wine. Now is a good time to pour yourself a glass too, indulge a little. Cheers!

Recommended


snapper carcass cooking in a pot to make fish stock
Don't forget to save that cheek meat for another day.

4. Add water to cover about half to ¾ of the fish. Use less water to achieve a more concentrated sauce. That concentration equals flavor- so don’t overdo it with the water. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.

5. Salt the skin of the fillets and put them in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. The salt will pull the moisture out of the skin and allow it to get nice and crispy when cooking.

salting the skin on snapper fillets
Salting the skin will pull moisture out, ensuring a crispy cooked skin that will add a welcomed texture to your palate.

6. Drain the fish broth using a fine sieve. You made fish stock (fish fumet if you’re culinarily cultured), simple, right? I mean, you’re practically a chef at this point.

7. Use a paper towel to remove the salt on the fish fillets and pat dry. Set aside.

8. In this dish, I blended parsley, shallots and heavy cream to make my sauce, but this is where you can get creative. You can add white wine, lemon, avocado, tarragon or other complementary spices. You might discover a new favorite recipe all of your own volition by letting go and having fun with it.

cream sauce for fish
In this dish, I blended parsley, shallots and heavy cream to make my sauce, but this is where you can get creative.

9. Add the cornstarch slur to the sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until thickened.

10. Heat some neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, etc.) in a large frying pan on medium-high. Reduce heat to medium, place the fish skin side down (watch out for that hot oil!) and fry until ¾ done, about 4 to 5 minutes for a medium-sized fillet. Set it and forget it, don't move your fish around in the pan. Press the fillets with a spatula to give the skin a nice crisp and avoid curling on the corners. Flip the fish and finish cooking on the other side until just cooked in the middle, about 2 to 3 minutes for an average fillet. Cook time may vary slightly depending on the thickness of your fillet so be careful not to overcook the fish, your date won’t thank you for that. Give or take a minute to adjust to the thickness of your fish.

drizzling herb cream sauce on top of cooked snapper
This creamy, savory herb sauce pairs perfectly with a flaky fish fillet. Roasted veggies and fingerling potatoes are prime choices to round out this spread.

11. Serve with some roasted vegetables (lightly toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, roast in 400-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, poke with a fork to test doneness) and top with the masterpiece of a sauce you created. A sprinkle of parsley will give your plate some extra “wow” factor. Throw an orchid on there if you really want to elevate your presentation.

Voilà! You’ve made a restaurant-quality meal, wasted nothing and maybe even tickled your partner’s fancy at the same time.

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