5 Ingredients or Fewer

James Peterson's Baked Fish Fillets with Butter and Sherry

July 11, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 8 minutes
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Serves 4
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

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds scrod fillets (or any in season, firm-fleshed, non-oily white fish)
  • 1 dash 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Änneken
  • Cecile
  • Marsha Gainey
    Marsha Gainey
  • Amelia
  • Linda Brodow Taylor
    Linda Brodow Taylor
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

34 Reviews

Danielle February 4, 2024
Did this with dairy free butter for the lactose intolerant in our family and it was amazing!
Linda D. July 11, 2021
Agree. So simple and wonderful!
Änneken February 9, 2020
So simple and so wonderful!
UncleBen1630 February 22, 2018
Can i assume halibut or haddock would work as well? They both spring to mind when I think of firm, white fish.
BonnieC. February 22, 2018
Definitely! My go-to for this is cod, but any relatively thick (1" or more) filet would work perfectly. One could probably use thinner filets of other types of white fish as well, but then would probably want to cut back a little on the other ingredient amounts to avoid the filets "swimming" in sauce. And of course the baking time would be less.
Cecile August 20, 2016
What a great and simple recipe! The gold standard for me as I'm rarely motivated to prepare complex recipes. Just too slow of a cook. Added to my rotation. Used a California sherry and it was fine. Moderately dry. Great with the suggested farro and a green salad.
BonnieC. August 17, 2016
I LOVE this recipe, & have made it quite a few times using different types of white fish. Since the simple ingredients are always on hand, when I come upon an unexpected terrific sale on any type of nice fresh white fish, I don't have to stew over what ingredients I might need to put it on the table that night in as quick & simple a manner as possible. In addition, the simplicity of the recipe makes pairing sides also very easy.
Marsha G. June 9, 2016
I had cod and flounder in the freezer and tried this marinade with both. It was all right. Made lots of sauce. Was tastier with the butter than the olive oil.
Timm December 24, 2015
What kind of Sherry? Dry cooking wine? Or Sherry Vinegar?
Kristen M. December 26, 2015
It's the dry cooking wine, not the vinegar.
nutcakes August 6, 2016
But don't buy anything labeled 'cooking wine' in the grocery aisle as that is low quality salted stuff. Buy the stuff in the liquor department, get Spanish sherry if you can. It isn't just for cooking, it is for sipping too.
APinNYC November 21, 2015
i thought this recipe was way too bland. there was no flavor in the fish at all. i don't think i'll make it again.
Amelia November 19, 2014
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!
Ava September 22, 2014
Can I do this with frozen fillets? How should I adapt?
Kristen M. September 24, 2014
I would thaw them in the fridge or under running water, drain, then follow the recipe as is!
Maria A. April 12, 2015
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.
Anonymous February 21, 2018
What a great tip, Maria! Thank you! I am always leary of buying frozen fish. Using this terrific method of defrosting fish could actually double my fish consumption. I cant always be going to the grocer for fresh fish, though that will always be my first choice! Thanks!
Pamela J. March 24, 2018
Great suggestion. Thank you
Easy, quick and delicious! Perfect for a weeknight!
Linda B. April 8, 2014
I made this last night. It was very good, and very simple!
frog April 7, 2014
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.
Tom S. April 7, 2014
"...sign up for a CFS." What is a CFS? Thanks.
MaryMary April 3, 2014
If no dry sherry, use a dry white wine.
Pauline K. April 3, 2014
If no dry sherry, what kind of wine in its place?
Janet April 4, 2014
I buy the cheapest sherry I can find. I dont use dry, it to too strong.
MaryMary April 2, 2014
Cover the pan or not?
Kristen M. April 3, 2014
No cover!
frog April 2, 2014
Not a criticism, but the recipe is exactly, word for word, James Peterson's. So, how is it slightly adapted?
Kristen M. April 3, 2014
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.
madeleine April 2, 2014
Any thoughts on sides to pair this with?
Kristen M. April 3, 2014
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.