One of my favorite ways to cook fish on a weeknight is on the stove. I save this dish for those especially busy days because it comes together in under 30 minutes. I like to use a firm fish, such as branzino or red snapper, which is less likely to fall apart than cod or other flaky fish. The method here is incredibly simple, just make sure to use a well-seasoned pan or a nonstick skillet and begin cooking the fish with its skin pressed down on the skillet. The scallion-lemon oil pairs well with anything, so you can also serve it with other dishes, such as roasted chicken. To keep the meal light but satisfying, accompany the pan-seared fish with a salad, such as Green Salad with Umeboshi Dressing, Cucumber and Fennel Sunomono, Potato Salad, or Loaded Vegetable Miso Soup in the winter.

Serves 4


  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    WNK-MakeitJapanese-Bookcover Make It Japanese Rie McClenny
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

  • 2 tablespoons chopped lemon, including peel and pith (about 2 slices)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 4 skin-on white fish fillets (6 ounces each), such as branzino, red snapper, or sea bass

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves


1.  In a small skillet, combine 6 tablespoons of the oil, the scallions, garlic, ginger, lemon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook over low heat, stirring, until fragrant and the scallions are wilted, about 5 minutes. The garlic shouldn’t take on any color. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the soy sauce. Set aside. 

2.  Pat the fish fillets dry with a paper towel. Using a sharp knife, score the fish skin by making crosswise incisions about 1½ inches long. (This is to prevent the skin from curling when the fish cooks.) Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour all over the fish and shake off any excess.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (a sprinkle of flour should immediately sizzle), add the fish fillets skin-side down. Gently press on the fish with a flexible spatula. Cook until the skin is golden brown and the flesh is opaque, about 5 minutes. (The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets.) Flip and cook until just cooked through, about 1 minute.

4. Transfer the fish to a serving platter and spoon the scallion-lemon oil over the fish. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

tip | Cook the fish skin-side down until almost fully cooked through. When you flip the fish, you just want it to “kiss” the pan, meaning it will briefly cook on the other side.

Reprinted with permission from Make It Japanese by Rie McClenny, with Sanaë Lemoine, copyright © 2023. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

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