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pan-seared black cod (sablefish) with brown butter sauce on a serving platter
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5 from 3 votes

Pan-Seared Black Cod (Sablefish) with Brown Butter

This decadent pan-seared black cod (sablefish) features fish cooked in butter and then topped with a brown butter, cayenne and honey sauce.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, French
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 288kcal


  • 8 ounces sablefish (black cod) Or substitute salmon
  • pinch salt, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided Or use extra olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)


  • Pat sablefish dry.  Sprinkle fillets on both sides with salt and pepper.
    Allow fillets to rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes. (Cold fish is more difficult to sear.)
    Pat the Fish Dry
  • Add olive oil and half the butter to a heavy pan. Melt butter over medium heat.
    Place the fillets skin-side down in the pan and cook about 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
    As the sablefish cooks, the flesh will begin to turn opaque from the bottom up. When the fish has cooked halfway through, it's ready to flip.
    Avoid touching the fish until the fish is ready to flip.
    Add the Black Cod (Sablefish) to the Hot Pan
  • Use a thin metal spatula to test the fish.  If you can slide the spatula under the fish without the fish sticking to the pan, it's ready to flip. If the fillets won't release, give them another 30 seconds. They'll release when they've finished cooking.
    Cook fish about 4 minutes until done. Timing will depend on the thickness of the fillet. (Watch the sides of the fillets to see when the fish is done cooking. It's finished as soon as there are no more translucent patches and it's fully opaque.)
    Flip the Black Cod (Sablefish)
  • Transfer the fish to plates, leaving the excess butter in the pan. Cover fish to keep warm, or set fish in a 200ºF oven.
    Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add the remaining butter to the pan. The butter will begin to foam, and then the foam will begin to subside.
    Watch for brown specks to appear in the butter and for the butter to start smelling nutty. As soon as it begins to become golden (about 1 minute), add the lemon juice, stir, and then remove from heat.
    Brown Butter in the Pan
  • Pour the butter sauce into a small bowl and mix with the honey and cayenne.
    Mix Brown Butter with Honey + Cayenne
  • Brush the butter sauce over the fish. You'll see that the sablefish is incredibly soft and the flakes will be pulling apart, so the sauce will soak down into the fish.
    Serve the fish right away along with any extra sauce.
    pan-seared black cod (sablefish) with brown butter sauce on a serving platter


Cooking Tips:
  • Make sure to pat the fish dry.  Wet fish won't develop a crispy skin.
  • Make sure to let the fish rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes.  Cold fish tends to stick to the pan.
  • Test the fish with a thin metal spatula before attempting to flip.  If the fish doesn't release, give it another 30 seconds and try again.
  • If your butter and oil begin to smoke, lower the heat slightly.
  • Have all your ingredients prepared before beginning so that you can watch the fish carefully while it cooks.  I prep everything while the fish rests at room temperature.


Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 352mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 421IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg