Classic Pan Sauce for Fish

dinner plate of fish and vegetables
Brian Macdonald DigitalVision/Getty Images
Prep: 0 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
99 Calories
6g Fat
4g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 16mg 5%
Sodium 283mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 111mg 2%
*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.)

This is a basic, classic sauce that every fish and seafood home cook should have under their belt. It is a variation on a sauce velouté (pronounced Vel-oo-TAY), which is an enriched roux. If the sauce sounds too French or complicated, don't let that scare you off. This is a quick, easy, and delicious sauce for simply prepared fish.

When cooking with fish stock, it's important to use the appropriate stock for your dish (i.e., shrimp stock for shrimp, lobster stock for lobster, fish stock for fish). You can always sub in another stock if you need to, but adding the right stock makes your whole dish one step better. Fish stock can be found in most grocery stores or even specialty fish stores. It's also quite easy to make your own. Ask your fishmonger for fish heads or parts for a stock. They are usually inexpensive. Simmer the fish parts with water and aromatics (celery, carrots, onions, etc.), and you'll have a fish stock. It's super easy and worth the time. If you have leftover stock, just cool it and freeze it for next time you need it.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or oil

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 1 cup fish stock

  • Salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. When you have finished pan-frying or sautéing your fish or seafood, add 2 more tablespoons of whatever oil or butter you cooked the fish with, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

  2. Turn the heat to medium-low and sprinkle in the flour and mix well with a fork or wooden spoon. Let this cook and stir often until it turns light brown; you are making a roux (pronounced "roo" in case you were wondering). It is very important not to burn the roux, so watch it closely.

  3. When the roux is light brown, add the wine. It will sputter. Mix well and scrape any browned bits off the bottom with the wooden spoon. This is important because all the flavor lies in the bits, so get them all off the bottom of the pan and into your sauce.

  4. It may thicken up quite a bit immediately, so add the stock and mix well. Bring this to a boil over high heat.

  5. When the sauce has reduced by about half, taste a bit ​for salt and add more if you need to.

  6. The sauce is done when it can coat the back of a spoon, or when it takes a second or so to fill in after you drag the wooden spoon through the center of the pan. If you really want to get fancy, pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer before serving. This will remove any bigger bits, but is not a necessary step for an at-home recipe.

    Serve the fish immediately, with the sauce either poured over or served on the side, so it remains smooth and hot.