Dinner in a snap, made from scratch! Pan fried fish with a smooth lemon sauce, asparagus and crispy smashed potatoes, Fish Piccata is filled with bright zesty flavours and buttery undertones. It really is amazing what you can make in 15 minutes when you get creative!
It’s obvious that I love cooking (and eating). When I’m not cooking, I’m probably watching a cooking show, talking about food, arguing about food, reading a cookbook or planning my next meal.
Taking a wild guess, I think I might be a foodie…?
But as food obsessed as I am, even I don’t have the energy or time to spend hours in the kitchen for midweek meals. And while I have a keen interest in cooking, I am actually fundamentally lazy at heart ….oops, I meant to say that I like to be efficient! So a vast proportion of my recipe creation thoughts are devoted to coming up with fast meal ideas. Made from scratch. Always made from scratch! I was brought up believing that canned soup and packet mixes are evil and I just can’t shake that habit! My mother did a great job brain washing me.
“You can make this with frozen fish if you want but I really recommend using fresh fish if you can. For flash fried fish, it is always better to use fresh.”
So this is a classic fast meal in my rotation. Fish Piccata is so simple, but so tasty. The sauce is made by deglazing the pan with wine (yes, you need to sacrifice a wee bit of your evening wine for this meal) so the brown bits stuck on the pan from the fish mix in with it and creates the “stock” for the sauce. The flour that the fish is coated in thickens the sauce, then you finish it off with a hit of lemon and some butter (not too much!).
I’ve seen a lot of Fish Piccata recipes around and I often can’t resist taking a peek even though I haven’t strayed from this recipe in years. I find many of them too lemony and sour for my taste, so mine is a lot more mild. If you like a strong lemon flavour, then by all means, increase the lemon juice in this!
“The sauce of this is not overly lemony and sour. This is the problem I find with many piccata recipes – far too much lemon.”
For pan fried fish dishes, I really recommend using fresh fish fillets rather than frozen if you can, especially for white fish fillets (though I do find that salmon and trout freeze fairly well). But you can use frozen fish fillets if you want, and I have certainly done so. I find that frozen fish nowadays is great quality.
This fish is accompanied with crispy smashed potatoes, made super fast by cooking them in the microwave, smashing them (this is such a satisfying step!) then pan frying them with the fish to make it fabulously crispy. Then I braise the beans while deglazing the pan – another shortcut tip! You could also steam the asparagus separately but I like the extra flavour infused into the asparagus by braising it in the sauce.
Love to hear if you give this a go! And if you have any questions, just leave it in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to respond.
- 2 pieces firm white fish fillets (around 150 - 200g / 5 - 7 oz each) (with or without skin, your choice) (see notes)
- 6 baby / chat / new potatoes (about the size of a golf ball) (see notes)
- 7 oz / 200 g green beans , trimmed
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley , finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 - 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (adjust to your taste)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp baby capers (canned)
- Salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes in the microwave for 2 minutes, turn potatoes, then cook for another 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. You will be able to tell by squeezing them if they are ready. Don't worry if the skin bursts, you are smashing them anyway.
Use the side of a knife, meat mallet or your hand (covered with a dish cloth) and smash each potato so they are flattened to around 1.5cm/ 0.5" thick with a flattish surface. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, combine flour, salt and pepper on a plate and dredge each side of the fish in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour.
Heat olive oil in a non stick pan over high heat. Place fish and potatoes in the pan. Press the potatoes down lightly with a spatula to help it crisp up.
Cook the first side of both the fish and potatoes for around 2 minutes until golden brown, then turn. Make sure the potato is crispy and brown.
Cook the other side of the fish for 1 1/2 minutes (also see notes for fish cooking time). Then remove from the pan onto a plate and cover loosely with foil.
Give the potatoes another 30 seconds to 1 minute to make it nice and brown and crispy, then remove from the pan.
Turn heat down to medium high.
Add wine and water to the pan. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and mix it in. When the liquid comes to a rapid simmer, add the beans.
Shake the pan occasionally to help the beans cook evenly. Cook the beans in the liquid for around 1 1/2 minutes until "tender crisp" (i.e. cooked but still crisp) and remove from pan. If the liquid reduces too much while cooking the beans (which might be the case if you are using a very large heavy based pan), just add a splash of water.
Remove pan from heat. By the time you remove the beans, there should just be a bit of sauce left at the bottom of the fry pan, not even covering the entire base of the fry pan.
Add lemon juice then stir through butter and capers. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Place half the beans on each plate and place 3 potatoes on top. Top with a piece of fish. Spoon over the Sauce onto each fish and scatter with parsley. Serve immediately.
1. Baby potatoes in Australia are called chat potatoes. I think they are called new potatoes in the US. You can use any type of potatoes you want. Just ensure they are starchy ones suitable for roasting and mashing (that go fluffy when cooked), not the waxy ones which are good for boiling for things like potato salad (which hold their shape).
2. This can be made with fresh fish or good quality frozen fish. Thaw the fish completely before cooking.
3. The cooking time for the fish will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet you are using. If you aren't sure, just take a peek by pushing aside some of the fish flakes in the centre of the fish to check. And remember that the fish will continue to cook while resting! Also if you are cooking fish straight out of the fridge, it will take a little longer to cook than fish at room temperature
4. I am not entirely convinced this nutrition analysis is correct. I consider this to be a pretty balanced meal but the nutrition calculator came out with a nutrition glade C-.