Recipe video above. This is a beautiful, elegant white wine sauce that will go with virtually any fish. The simple restaurant trick we deploy here is to mix in cold cubes of butter which makes the sauce glossy and satiny. It's a classic French technique called monter au beurre.Don't try this sauce with baked fish (make this Baked Fish with Lemon Cream Sauce instead). You need to pan fry because the fond left in the pan after pan frying dissolves into the sauce and adds flavour.
Course: Fish, Main
Cuisine: French-ish, Western
Keyword: creamy sauce for fish, creamy wine sauce, white wine sauce, white wine sauce for fish
Pan seared fish:
4 x 150g / 5oz white fish fillets, skinless, boneless (I used snapper, Note 1)
Preheat oven to 50°C/120°F. Place rack over a tray.
Season fish: Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.
Cook fish: Heat oil in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook fish in two batches until golden, 2 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature is 55°C/131°F. (Note 4)
Keep warm: Place fish on rack, and place in the oven to keep warm.
White wine sauce:
Discard oil: Tip out excess oil from the skillet but don't wipe clean.
Reduce wine: Add eschalot, white wine, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar to the pan. Bring to simmer (still on medium high) and reduce by half (~3 minutes).
Simmer cream: Add cream, simmer for 2 minutes.
Finish with COLD butter: Turn heat to low and add cold butter one cube at a time while mixing with wooden spoon. Once all the butter is incorporated, the sauce should be thickened, satiny and beautifully glossy.
Optional strain: Strain the sauce through a sieve (discard eschalot), then pour it back into the pan.
Fish in sauce: Place fish back into the pan in the sauce. Spoon some sauce over the fish, leave for 30 seconds.
Serve: Transfer fish onto serving plates. Spoon sauce over each fish, sprinkled with parsley if desired. Pictured with a side of pea puree (great colour splash!).
1. Fish - This recipe is suitable for any white fish fillet suitable for pan frying, or salmon and trout. Just avoid:Fish that dries out easily – like swordfish, tuna, bonito, kingfish, marlin, Mahi Mahi.Oily fish that also tends to have quite a “fish” flavour, such as sardines, mackerel, mullet.See in post for an extensive list of fish suited to this recipe.2. Eschalots –Also known as French onions, and called “shallots” in the US. They look like baby onions, but have purple-skinned flesh, are finer and sweeter. Not to be confused with what some people in Australia call “shallots” ie the long green onions.3. Wine – Any white wine that’s not too woody or sweet will work great here. Chardonnay in particular adds really good flavour. Sub low sodium chicken stock/broth for a non alcoholic version.Don’t use an expensive wine. The flavour and aroma that you pay for is largely lost during cooking. It’s pretty well documented these days by notable food authorities (such as New York Times Cooking) that you do not need to use expensive wines for cooking.4. Fish cook times will differ for different size fillets. This is the time for a 150g/5oz snapper fillet which is around 1.75cm / 2/3" at the thickest point (fairly even thickness most of the way along).If your fish is much thinner and more delicate, use a lower heat. If your fish is much thicker, consider searing on stove then finishing in the oven at 180°C/350°F until the internal temperature is 55°C/131°F.