Fish is easy to cook — and easy to ruin. Slow, gentle cooking, like poaching, works but it's pretty bland. What I really want is nicely seared exterior, but how do I apply enough heat to achieve a brown crust without overcooking? And there is nothing worse than overcooked fish.
There's a fast, easy method that's standard practice in restaurants: Sear the fish on the stove, finish cooking in the oven. The trick is to start with a very hot pan and sear one side. Then flip the fish and remove from the stove. Move the pan to the oven where the heat of the pan will sear the second side while the oven cooks the fish through.
Pan-Seared and Oven-Roasted Fish
1 lb, fish fillets: A sturdy fish like cod or snapper work best.
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup white wine
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon of thyme, marjoram, or basil
1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F.
2. Wash fish and dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper both sides.
3. Place a heavy, oven-proof skillet on the stove. Heat well on high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter, give it a few seconds to heat, then add the fish. Leave room around each piece of fish as you lay them in the pan. Leave heat on high, turning it if it begins to smoke. Do not turn or move the fish: Leave it in one place until it has browned, 1-2 minutes.
4. Flip fish and immediately move to the oven. Roast there for 4-6 minutes, until the inside of the fish is almost opaque. Remove the fish to a platter. You want to remove it before it is completely cooked, because it will continue to cook from residual heat.
5. Cover fish with foil to keep warm and return pan to stove, over high heat. Add remaining ingredients and cook until sauce is slightly thickened. Pour over fish and serve.