When I’m out at a restaurant, my eyes nearly always make a b-line for the fish entrees. It’s not only because I love seafood; there’s something about fish that seems restaurant exclusive— like you’d never be able to make it at home. What a silly thought! Seafood is one of the simplest, quickest-cooking items you could prepare for yourself. It rarely requires much more than lemon, salt, and perhaps a simple sauce to make it shine.

What makes people nervous is messing it up ( it’s not a cheap mistake!). But, if you can master the technique for a simple pan sear, you’ll never have to worry about messing it up again. Watch closely to my pan searing tutorial above so you can pull it off like a restaurant chef.

Today, I was thinking back to my last trip to the south of France, where I sat outside sipping rosé  overlooking the water. It was the most picturesque day. I ordered branzino with “sauce vierge,” something I’d never tasted before. When I took my first bite, I knew I needed the recipe! The flavors were so clean and simple— the perfect accompaniment to fresh seafood. I was lucky enough to get the recipe for this divine provencal sauce, and I’m sharing it with you today!

Make this dish all summer long for a light 15 minute dinner. Who needs to go out when you can make this at home?!

Thanks again to Michael Romano Brands Fine Wines for the excellent pairing!

Pan-Seared Snapper with Sauce Vierge

Serves 4

For sauce:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped
1 cup tiniest cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp chopped olives
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For fish:

4 skin-on red snapper fillets

Neutral oil, for pan (like canola)

Salt and Pepper

Place all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Stir and season to taste. If you have the time, let sit for 1 hour before serving.

To cook the fish, score the skin of each fillet crosswise 1 inch apart. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until almost smoking, when you begin to see small wisps come from the oil.

Lay fillets two at a time in pan, laying them skin side down and away from you. Immediately press down firmly wish a fish spatula to prevent curling. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until skin is golden brown and crispy. Flip over onto other side to finish cooking for less than one minute. Repeat for remaining fillets.

Spoon over the sauce vierge and enjoy!