Le Bernardin's Crispy-Skinned Fish

By • July 20, 2011 • 15 Comments



Author Notes: A simple formula for doing right by fish, adapted from On the Line by Eric Ripert and Christine Muhlke (with a surprise ingredient straight out of the 1960s).Genius Recipes

Serves 4

  • About 1 tablespoon canola oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
  • Four 6-ounce skin-on fish fillets (like striped bass or salmon)
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper (black is fine too, if you don't mind the speckles)
  • Wondra flour for dusting
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a large, oven- and flame-proof sauté pan on the stovetop until the oil is very hot, but not smoking.
  2. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and dust with Wondra flour. Blow off excess.
  3. Put the fish in the pan, skin side down, and press down on the fish with a spatula. (The skin immediately contracts and buckles, but you want to keep it all in contact with the pan for maximum crisping.) Sear on the stovetop over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn the fish over, put the pan in the oven, and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until a metal skewer can be easily inserted into the center of the fillet and, if left for 5 seconds, feels just warm when touched to your lip. Serve immediately.
Jump to Comments (15)

Comments (15) Questions (1)

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4 months ago areessvee

a dusting of all purpose flour and all on the stovetop cooking made a crispy golden crust on the skinless side of my halibut. delish! but i'm wondering - is the fish skin meant to be eaten?

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5 months ago Payal

Just tried this technique with basa fillets, dusted with cornflour. My first time cooking fish and it worked a charm. Crispy skin, perfectly flaky fish and delicious with a squeeze of lime served over a simple rocket salad.

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6 months ago salena

this worked beautifully with black cod. Was told striped bass is illegal to sell in New Jersey.

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12 months ago JohnSkye

BLOW off excess (wondra flour)... BLOW it off???? other than me and my wife, not sure how many, or which, chefs/cooks i want "blowing" on my food ... well, maybe nigella ... or cat.

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7 months ago JohnL

If you mean Cat Cora, I just tried her Olive Oil Cake recipe and it is superb. A lot like the one on this site, but it has finely chopped almonds and is baked in 10-inch pan. If I'm splurging on calories, I serve it with mascarpone buttercream (6 TB room temp unsalted butter whipped with 8 oz mascarpone till light & creamy, then beat in 2 cups confectioner's sugar sifted. It's a very nice go with either of the cakes.

Open-uri.4355

about 1 year ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

If you've ever been to Le Bernadin, you know you've dreamt of this recipe since you walked out the door. The crispiness of the skin is just incredible. Can't wait to make this.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Susan Hession Bocox

why can't u just finish stovetop? that's what I d...

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7 months ago JohnL

The skin will be crispier if done the way the recipe directs (both pan and oven).

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about 2 years ago Lula Mae Broadway

Sounds great, but how do you keep the skin from sticking to the bottom of the pan, or is that what the flour does?

Stringio

almost 3 years ago jburseja

What side dishes and bread would go along with this recipe.

Miglore

almost 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

It depends on what sort of fish you choose, but I'd say it's really flexible! There are no strong flavors in the seasoning, so it will match well with whatever you' serving -- sauteed greens, salads, roasted potatoes, you name it!

If you'd like more ideas, you could try asking the Hotline for the Food52 community's advice -- just click the banner in the middle of the recipe that says "Have a question about this recipe?".

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about 3 years ago Mary Cheng Go

what is the other alternative for Wondra flour?

Miglore

about 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Wondra flour is a brand name for "instant flour" -- meaning it's been pre-cooked and dried again. It has a fine, gritty texture, much like cornmeal. If you can find other brands labelled instant flour, that would be the closest substitute, but fine cornmeal or all purpose flour will also work fine with this technique -- just sprinkle lightly and blow off any excess.

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about 3 years ago johnandrewwalsh

Can you do more than one fillet at a time in the pan? How long can you let the cooked fish rest if you're making four portions? Thanks!

Miglore

about 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, you can do as many portions as will fit in your pan without crowding (that would cool down the pan too much and they'd end up steaming instead of searing). You can also get 2 large pans going at once to give them more space. I don't think this is a preparation you can hold very long -- any attempts to keep it warm (or re-warm it) would likely overcook the fish, or make the skin soggy, or both!