How to Make Fish à la Meunière

Halibut served with Green Salad and White Wine
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Made of butter, lemon, and parsley, meunière (pronounced "mun-YAIR") is one of the simplest sauces there is. It's typically served with fish that has been lightly floured and then sautéed for a light, flavorful, elegant dish that's easy to make.

This simple procedure will work nicely with tilapia, sole, cod, haddock or any other lean, firm white fish. The classic recipe is not made with overly flavorful fish like salmon or bluefish, but feel free to try it with whatever fresh fish you have on hand. The preparation also works very nicely with shrimp, scallops, or even a whole trout. Besides the fish, you'll need some flour, kosher salt, ground white pepper, butter, lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley, and a bit of milk. Some clarified butter is helpful too so that it doesn't smoke, but you don't absolutely need it.

How to Prepare the Fish

  1. Soak the fish in milk for about 10 minutes. You just need enough milk to cover the fish. While it's soaking, pour some flour onto a plate or shallow dish and season it with kosher salt and a little bit of ground white pepper.
  2. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat for a minute, then add a couple of tablespoons of clarified butter (use regular butter if clarified butter is not an option).
  3. Now remove the fish from the milk and shake it off so it isn't drippy. Dredge it in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess.
  4. Gently place the floured fillet into the hot pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until there's a nice golden-brown color, then carefully flip it over. Cook for another couple of minutes or until the other side is golden-brown, too. Remove fish from pan and place it on a warm plate. Place a foil tent over the plate to keep it warm or put the whole plate in a warmed oven.
  5. Add a chunk of whole butter to the pan and swirl it around. Cook until it turns slightly brown. Now add a few tablespoons of lemon juice and some chopped parsley to the hot butter. Cook for just a few seconds, letting it bubble a bit, then pour onto the fish and serve right away. Garnish with a thin slice of lemon if you like.

Serving Tips

If you are preparing this for a crowd, use the largest pan you have. You don't want to crowd the pan since that can alter the cooking time and prevent that golden brown color on the fish. It may be best to cook with multiple pans going at the same time. Since this cooks quickly and only requires a few ingredients, pay close attention and have all of your ingredients prepared ahead of time and easily in reach.

This seafood dish can be paired with a wide variety of sides. It works equally well with rich, creamy mashed potatoes or a bright, acidic salad and some crusty bread. The sauce is delicious and you won't want to miss a chance to soak up the juices either with the potatoes or bread.