Fish is always plentiful in the Caribbean, and pan-frying is the most popular way of preparing it. But fish broth — a kind of fish soup — is also a favorite. Personally, we like fish that can be prepared simply and quickly, and this butterfish recipe is just that. You can have it on the table in about 30 minutes from start to finish.
Butterfish, also called small eye croaker, is a type of white fish. It got its name because its scales are golden and the flesh is tender.
- 2 whole butterfish (scaled, washed and patted dry)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- Sliced hot pepper to taste
- 2 cups water at room temperature
- 1 green onion (thinly sliced, both the white and green parts)
Cut each butterfish in half lengthwise to make two fillets. Season the fish with salt and pepper to taste and set it aside.
Add the oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large pan and melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the onions to the pan when the butter froth subsides. Sauté them until they become translucent.
Add the fresh thyme and the hot pepper, then season with salt to taste. Continue to sauté the onions for 1 additional minute.
Pour the water into a pan with the sautéed onions. Stir and bring to a boil.
Add the fish as soon as the water and onions reach a boil.
Turn the heat to high and cook for 15 to 17 minutes, spooning the sauce over the fish occasionally as though basting it.
Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and let the butter melt completely, continuing to baste the fish with the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Toss in the green onions. Remove the pan from heat and serve.
Tips, Variations and Serving Suggestions
This fish serves well with crusty bread, root vegetables or mashed potatoes.
Some recipes for this and similar dishes call for the addition of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Butterfish is widely available in the Caribbean where it's in season year-round. You may have a harder time finding it in the U.S. except in Caribbean or Chinese marketplaces. If you want the real deal, consider ordering it online if you can't find it locally. Otherwise, this recipe also works well with flounder, sole or any white fish that poaches well and cooks quickly.