Fish Fillets in Caper Sauce, Roman Style

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The Italians typically cook the whole fish rather than fillets, as the full, brinish flavors of fish are diminished when it is cooked without the head and skin. However, this sauce is so tasty that it will rescue even the most bland fish fillets, which are easier to find than whole fish in the markets these days. If increasing the recipe yield, sauté the fillets in batches to avoid overcrowding them in the skillet.


Cooking Methodsauteeing


Total Timeunder 15 minutes

OccasionCooking for a date

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturebuttery, crisp, herby, savory, sweet, tangy, tart, winey


  • 1 pound white-fleshed saltwater fish fillets, such as sea bass, sole, haddock, hake, or orange roughy
  • about ½ cup flour for dredging
  • freshly ground white or black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons small capers, drained
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • sea salt to taste


  1. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels. This step is very important in order to sauté the fillets properly.

  2. Place a large piece of waxed paper on your work surface and measure the flour onto it. Sprinkle with the pepper, then spread the flour out. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, lightly dredge the fillets in the flour. Dredging must be done at the last minute to assure a crisp coating.

  3. When the butter foam has subsided, slip the fillets into the skillet. Sauté over medium to medium-high heat until lightly golden, about 1 minute on each side depending on the thickness of the fillets, turning them only once. Transfer to a heated platter and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the capers and wine. Stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and salt.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the sauce over the fish. Serve immediately,


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