Caribbean Butterfish in Butter Sauce

Plate of butterfish fillet with leek

Enrique Chavarria/Getty Images

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 22 mins
Total: 32 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 fillets
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
162 Calories
12g Fat
8g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 162
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 36mg 12%
Sodium 111mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 21mg 105%
Calcium 36mg 3%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 279mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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 and gutted, pin bones removed

  • Salt, to taste

  • 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

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Cut each butterfish in half lengthwise to make 2 fillets. Season the fish with salt and pepper to taste and set it aside. 

  3. Add the oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large pan and melt the butter over medium heat.

  4. Add the onions to the pan when the butter froth subsides. Sauté them until they become translucent.

  5. Add the fresh thyme, garlic, and the hot pepper, then season with salt to taste. Continue to sauté the onions for 1 additional minute.

  6. Pour the water into a ​pan with the sautéed onions. Stir and bring to a boil.

  7. Add the fish as soon as the water and onions reach a boil.

  8. Turn the heat to high and cook for 15 to 17 minutes, spooning the sauce over the fish occasionally as though basting it.

  9. 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.

  10. Toss in the green onions. Remove the pan from heat and serve. 


  • 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. 

Recipe Variation

  • Some recipes for this and similar dishes call for the addition of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. 

Serving Suggestion

This fish serves well with crusty bread, root vegetables or mashed potatoes.