Tilapia with Lemon Brown Butter and Parsley

Adapted from For Cod and Country

I love the idea of meuniere, the lemony brown butter sauce that is often served over sole. But most of the recipes I’ve seen call for a full stick of butter! This recipe, which I found in a gorgeous new cookbook written and designed by my talented neighbors, is heavy on the tart lemon and lighter on the butter. The addition of onions gives the dish a bit of heft as well. I served this with a heap of fresh spring vegetables – big smiles and no leftovers.

  • 1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into long, wide strips
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Spread the flour out on a dinner plate, then dredge each piece of fish in the flour, shaking off the excess.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. After a few minutes, it will begin to brown. Watch it carefully, as butter can quickly go from browned to burned. If you begin to see black flecks, it has burned and you will need to start over again. When it begins to look brown and smell nutty, turn the heat up to medium high, then place the fish in the skillet in one layer. In a few minutes, the fish will begin to brown lightly. Turn fish over and cook the other side until the fish is just cooked through, about another 2 minutes or so. Remove the fish from the pan and place it into a shallow oven-safe dish. Keep it warm in the oven while you work on the sauce.
  • Add the onions to the hot skillet. Drizzle them with the olive oil and toss gently. In a few minutes, the onions will begin to soften and brown. At this time, add the water and lemon juice and allow it to cook down a bit. The mixture should be bubbling vigorously and thickening just a little, thanks to the remaining flour from the fish. Once the mixture is reduced and slightly thickened, remove it from the heat. Swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter and the parsley. Serve the fish topped with sauce.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. Could you try this with another fish? Yes, probably. You will want something that is similar in body. Some would say you can use sole or flounder, but Barton (author of this book) would recommend the more sustainable sunfish over either of those.
  • 2. Be a little careful with the heat when you cook the fish. It will cook quickly, but you want to get a nice brown crust on the outside without allowing the delicate flour crust to burn.

Preparation time: 25 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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