Trust your local fishmonger. She or he will tell you what just came in and what is good for searing in a pan. The rest is easy: Add it to a beautiful green salad or add a sauce and a bit of rice and beans and call it dinner. Fresh tuna is delicious with a lemon caper sauce and keeps preparation to a minimum.

Pan-Seared Triggerfish

2 fillets of fresh local catch, like triggerfish or other comparable mild fish

local sea salt

cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 tablespoons, unsalted, real butter

¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour

Check your fish to make sure you have removed all bones and scales. Gently pat the fillets dry and clean using a paper towel. Try not to run the fish under tap water, as the fish will start to break down. Once clean and mostly dry, season with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or sauté pan to medium high heat. You are looking for hot, but not smoking. Add olive oil and butter and swirl around in pan to cover bottom. If your butter browns immediately, your pan is too hot. If you like the flavor of brown butter, proceed. If not, clean your pan and start again. (That is what I would do. I do not care for brown butter.)

Put flour in a vessel that is large enough to hold one fillet. Gently move one fillet at a time around in the flour to cover. Turn it over. Coat the whole fillet. Shake gently to remove excess. Ease the fish into the foamy butter/oil in the hot skillet. You should hear a little sizzle. Repeat with the other fillet.

Make sure the temperature isn’t too high. If the butter is beginning to brown rapidly, your pan may be too hot. If the fillet is thick, at some point you may want to slide it into a 350-degree oven to finish cooking after you achieve your sear.

Note: You can sear without flour, but this recipe gives you a little extra assurance on a browned exterior. If the fish you have is tuna, for example, you might prefer it rare with a quick sear that does not allow for time to cook the flour, so you wouldn’t use it. If you intend to cook the tuna to medium or beyond, floured is a great option.

When you think it is time to turn, check the fish by gently lifting with a spatula. When both sides of fish have sufficient sear, and be careful not to overcook to try to achieve this, the fish may show natural signs of doneness.

White fish may flake or separate when done. Remember that most fish continue to come up in temperature after they are removed from the pan. Be sure to test for doneness to your preference before completely removing from pan, while also removing it just before it is perfect.

Fresh Tuna with Lemon Caper Sauce

6 tablespoons butter

1 or 2 small cloves garlic, finely minced

¼ c. fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons capers + 2 tablespoons caper juice

olive oil

6 fresh 8 oz. tuna fillets

local sea salt

cracked black pepper

Pan Seared:

Lightly rub both sides of the tuna steaks with olive oil, salt & pepper and half the lemon juice. Using a heavy-bottomed sauté pan or a cast-iron pan, warm the olive oil. Increase the heat to high and place the tuna in the pan. Sear for 1 minute, then turn over carefully, reducing the heat to medium. Sear the other side for 1 more minute until medium rare. (Do not overcook the tuna or the meat will become dry and lose its flavor.)


Remove tuna and add garlic to medium-hot skillet. Quickly add lemon juice, caper juice and capers. Scrape the bottom of the skillet for the good stuff. Remove from heat. Swirl in butter. Serve over tuna.


Heat broiler. Oil or spray the rack of a broiler pan and place in the oven.

Rub olive oil over the tuna steaks; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange tuna on the hot prepared pan. Broil about 6 inches from heat for 4 to 6 minutes, turning carefully about halfway through the cooking time. The tuna steaks should still be somewhat pink in the middle, depending on how you like your tuna done. Be prepared for the fish to continue to cook after it is removed from the pan. Drizzle warmed lemon caper sauce over the tuna steaks before serving.


In a small skillet over low heat, melt butter; add garlic, lemon juice, zest, and capers. Simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Serves 6.

Shrimp-Mousse Stuffed Flounder

Shrimp Mousse

12 oz. peeled, deveined shrimp

4 whole eggs

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup fresh chives, minced

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 oz. brandy

Place shrimp in a food processor with the cream and eggs. Turn on and mix until smooth. Add chives, shallots, brandy, salt and pepper and puree for another 30 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Beurre Blanc

¾ lb. soft sweet butter

2 shallots, minced

2 cups rice wine vinegar

2 cups white wine

1 cup heavy cream

Place shallots, rice vinegar and wine in small sauce pan and reduce to ¼ original amount. Add heavy cream and reduce by half. Slowly whisk in the soft butter a little at a time until smooth. Keep warm.

Preparing the Dish

4 flounder fillets, each cut in half length-wise

1 cup white wine

Lightly pound the filets with a meat hammer then place them on a piece of foodservice film, or plastic wrap, skin side up. Yes. Skin Side Up. You will not even know it was there after cooked! With a spoon, scoop some of the shrimp mousse on to the filet and roll it up, sushi style, toward the tail of the fish.

Butter or lightly oil a heavy, somewhat deep casserole dish and arrange the fish in it. Pour the white wine over the fish and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place on stove burner and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and set the dish aside for about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove fish with a slotted spoon. Lightly pat dry on a paper towel and place on individual plates. Top with a generous ladle of beurre blanc.


Recipes courtesy of Outer Banks Epicurean

(We try to use all organic/natural/real ingredients)

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.