James Peterson's Baked Fish Fillets with Butter and Sherry

By • April 1, 2014 21 Comments

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Author Notes: A 5-ingredient, 20-minute technique to make any white fish shine -- bonus: it makes its own buttery, boozy sauce, without deglazing or reducing. So go to your local fishmonger or sign up for a CSF. Don't blindly buy halibut or sea bass or whatever a recipe calls for -- ask your trusty fishperson what's in season, what came in fresh that day. Any firm-fleshed, non-oily white fish will work -- sole, cod, bass, rockfish, or any white fish that's not too delicate (so skip scrawny fillets like flounder). Adapted slightly from Fish & Shellfish (William Morrow, 1996).Genius Recipes

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds scrod fillets (or any in season, firm-fleshed, non-oily white fish)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, herb butter, or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Pull any pin bones out of the fish and sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper.
  2. Rub the bottom of a square casserole just large enough to hold the fillets in a single layer with a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Arrange the fillets in an even layer on top.
  3. Dot the tops of the fillets with butter or sprinkle them with olive oil. Sprinkle with the sherry and parsley. Bake for about 12 minutes per inch of thickness. Check for doneness by cutting into a fillet at the thickest part to see if it's opaque inside and pulls apart.
  4. If you have only 1 or 2 fillets, cut them into a total of 4 servings and place on hot plates. Spoon the melted butter and juices in the bottom of the pan over the fillets. Serve immediately.

Tags: Lent

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Comments (21) Questions (2)

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8 months ago Amelia

My boyfriend and I dive, so we always have plenty of rockfish around. I was running out of ways to cook it, when I found this recipe. It really is so simple and amazing and we haven't gotten sick of it yet!

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10 months ago Ava

Can I do this with frozen fillets? How should I adapt?

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9 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I would thaw them in the fridge or under running water, drain, then follow the recipe as is!

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3 months ago Maria Antonia Garces

Hi, in Spain and Latin countries you cover frozen fish filets with milk and let them defrost in that milk. Then you drain them well and pat them dry. This system produces delicious filets of fish that taste like fresh fish.

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about 1 year ago ChantalMSalomonLee

Easy, quick and delicious! Perfect for a weeknight!

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about 1 year ago Linda Brodow Taylor

I made this last night. It was very good, and very simple!

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about 1 year ago frog

CSF, not CFS, is Community Supported Fisheries. It is a program to connect shoppers to local fishermen to guarantee local seafood to the buyer and dependable sales to the seller.

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about 1 year ago Tom Salamone

"...sign up for a CFS." What is a CFS? Thanks.

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over 1 year ago MaryMary

If no dry sherry, use a dry white wine.

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over 1 year ago Pauline Kwan

If no dry sherry, what kind of wine in its place?

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over 1 year ago Janet

I buy the cheapest sherry I can find. I dont use dry, it to too strong.

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over 1 year ago MaryMary

Cover the pan or not?

C8d0fb81-32c9-4937-82ed-fbb6792b65a0.miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

No cover!

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over 1 year ago frog

Not a criticism, but the recipe is exactly, word for word, James Peterson's. So, how is it slightly adapted?

C8d0fb81-32c9-4937-82ed-fbb6792b65a0.miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Some of the ingredients have been clarified, so many publishers would want us to acknowledge that this has been slightly adapted and not want us to represent the recipe as being verbatim from the cookbook.

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over 1 year ago madeleine

Any thoughts on sides to pair this with?

C8d0fb81-32c9-4937-82ed-fbb6792b65a0.miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I think a whole grain like farro would be a great destination for some of those buttery juices, plus it would be a nice texture and color contrast to the fish. I'd also add roasted carrots and/or some sort of greens or salad.

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over 1 year ago Babcia









We regularly use a similar recipe but place a few (or many!) slices of onion and red/green peppers on the bottom of the baking dish. Keeps the fish off the dish and provides a tasty little bonus for those who need a few extra veggies. Haven't used the sherry but will try it next time. Also, one can put seasoned crumbs or other flavoring on top of the fish. We've found it to be good with any fish, just adjusting baking times for thickness..

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over 1 year ago SarahSoda

Your recipe does not have any sherry listed. What amount did you use?

C8d0fb81-32c9-4937-82ed-fbb6792b65a0.miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

You're quick! Thanks for asking -- it should be 3 tablespoons. I just updated the recipe.