Crispy, crunchy, beautifully golden brown fish fillets that are well-seasoned might seem like something only the restaurants can pull off, but fear not, it is so much easier than you might imagine it to be. These fillets are everything you need and more. Served with some Tartar Sauce and fries, or even with some Coconut Lentil Stew and steamed brown rice, this dish will not disappoint.
To make it we’ll need some fish fillets – fresh or frozen, the choice is yours. I personally love flounder for this. It’s usually a fragile fillet but it holds up so well to this method. We’ll also need some olive oil for frying, and some spices for our lemon pepper marinade including fresh lemon juice, garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt and onion powder, and light olive oil.
Make the marinade by adding the lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper, smoked paprika, salt and onion powder to the oil and mix well.
Pat your fillets dry using some paper towels and lay them out on a tray or in a dish or bowl.
Pour the marinade over them and rub it in with your fingertips to ensure that each fillet is fully covered. Allow the marinade to set for at least 10-15 minutes to as much as an hour to work its flavorful magic.
In another tray or dish, add some white whole wheat flour. This is all we’re going to need for the breading. Simply place a fish fillet (that’s coated in the oil-based marinade) onto the flour. Cover it with the flour and gently press down on it to ensure that the coating sticks and covers the entire fillet.
Shake off any excess and set it onto a tray while you bread the rest. Given the sometimes fragile nature of fish, I don’t recommend using the shake method of putting the fish and flour into a bag and vigorously shaking it. Doing it one by one works best.
Once breaded, let your fillets rest for a few minutes before frying to allow the flour to absorb any moisture and dry enough to form a stable crust.
Once the fillets are coated, heat your pan on med-high heat and pour just enough olive oil to cover the bottom. This is going to be a shallow fry so not a lot of oil is needed.
Place some fillets into the pan but do not overcrowd them. Ensure each fillet is laid flat so they can cook evenly.
Once the undersides are browned (2-3 minutes), gently flip them over and fry the other side. Some of the flour may make a bit of a sludge on the bottom of the pan. If that happens, be sure to scrape it out and remove it before frying the next batch. Once the fillets are browned on both sides, remove them from the pan and place them onto some paper towels so that any excess olive oil can drain off. Once they cool down they will crisp up nicely.
That’s it! Garnish your fillets with lemon wedges and fresh parsley and serve them with this Easy Homemade Tartar Sauce french fries for a British “fish and chips” meal, or with some Coconut Lentil Stew and steamed brown rice.
Crunchy Pan-fried Lemon Pepper Fish Fillets
For the Fish Fillets
- 4 fillets fish (flounder or tilapia or any fish of your choice)
- 1/3 cup extra light olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tbsp Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp onion powder
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (more as needed)
- extra light olive oil (for frying)
For the Fish Fillets:
- Cut each fillet into half lengthwise and pat each one dry.
- In a separate bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper, smoked paprika, salt and onion powder together and mix well. Pour the marinade over the dried fish fillets and allow to set for at least 10 minutes.
- Place the flour in a separate bowl or dish and coat each fillet with flour, being sure to cover both sides. Shake off any excess flour and set each fillet aside to rest for a few minutes to allow the breading to set and dry which will help your crust be more stable.
- Heat a saucepan on med-high heat and add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom. When the olive oil is hot (but not smoking) add a few fillets. The olive oil should begin to bubble immediately upon adding a fillet.
- Fry the fish for 2-3 minutes per side until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip each fillet and fry on the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- When both sides are golden brown, remove the fillets and set them on paper towels to drain off any excess olive oil.
- Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- Work in batches and be sure to not overcrowd the pan. Give each fillet enough space to lay flat without touching the fillet next to it.
- If after frying the first batch you notice a sludge of flour and olive oil, be sure to scrape it out and wipe the pan clean before frying the next batch. While this is normal, you can reduce it by shaking any excess flour off of the fillets before adding them to the pan.