Sautéed Snapper with Zesty Lemon Basil Butter

Snapper are arguably the most popular species around the entire state of Florida. With over a dozen varieties available to anglers of all skill levels from nearly every port, including yellowtail, mutton, vermillion, mangrove, red, queen and yelloweye snapper, these highly sought after reef dwellers are prized for their delicate white, flaky flesh. Whole, filleted, baked, broiled or fried, there really is no wrong way to prepare this versatile fish. There are however a few important details that can make a big difference on the table.


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Fresh snapper is always going to yield a superior dish when compared to fish that has been previously frozen. If you do have to freeze fillets for future use, make sure to use a vacuum sealer. It’s also important to remember that snapper typically cooks fast, usually within just a few minutes and will quickly dry out if left on the heat or in the oven for too long, a common mistake for inexperienced cooks. To achieve the best results, cook fillets just over three quarters of the way through until they’re just slightly opaque in the middle, and then remove from heat and let the fish rest for a few minutes before plating and serving. The end result will be a moist, flavorful fillet that will leave your dinner guests asking for seconds.

Combine butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat. Cover and keep warm.

Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Brush one side of fillets with remaining olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Sautée fillets for four minutes, flip and cook for two minutes more. Remove from heat and let fish rest before transferring fillets to individual plates. Spoon warm basil butter sauce over fillets and serve with roasted asparagus.

– 4 (6- to 8-ounce) fresh yelloweye snapper fillets (substitute with any snapper)
– 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
– 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
– 1 1/2 tablespoons basil leaves, chopped fresh
– 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
– 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
– 4 tablespoons olive oil