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Spicy Sautéed Fish with Spinach and Heirloom Tomatoes

Everyone should have a basic sautéed fish recipe and this one is my version- this recipe narrates the basic technique. The ingredients may vary; you can use any other seasonal vegetables or pair it with your choice of salad greens. Its delicious no matter what you pair it with...

Using Pakistani way of cooking fish, most of my favorite fish recipes are handed down to me from my mother. So, they are mostly fish curries, deep-fried fish marinated with various spices then coated with either flour or batter of gram flour and water.

Since I moved to the US, my taste buds for fish totally changed. I started to like more of sautéed technique than deep-frying (although deep-fried fish is still my favorite). I usually serve it over blanched green beans with chaat masala or peas and carrots, and rice as well.

I love having fresh seasonal amazing ingredients at my fingertips. I like going to farmers market getting my hands on to the freshest possible local produce.…. I love when squash is in season and root vegetables… add some chopped up cilantro, and sun dried tomatoes for variation. Another important point here is to handle the fish as little as possible. Fillets are delicate; moving them around too much will break them apart, so flip them only once. Any thick, white fish would work e-g tilapia, red snapper, mahi-mahi or sea bass and of course, use whatever herbs you like, mint, basil, oregano or thyme…It’s simple to make with so many variations. This method could not be much simpler….

I have made this recipe numerous times and love that it is so healthy, simple, inexpensive and delicious. I wouldn’t serve it without a big squeeze of lemon at the end. It really wakes up the dish's flavors. Soooo good and good for you...

Spicy Sautéed Fish with Spinach and Heirloom Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: mise en place, 10 min

Total cooking time: 20 min

Method: Sautéing


1/4-cup olive oil or clarified butter

2 pounds tilapia, red snapper, or mahi mahi

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. turmeric

¼ tsp. cumin powder

1 cups small heirloom tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 cups baby spinach

1 tsp. crushed garlic

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 onion thinly sliced

Bean sprouts tossed with lemon for garnishing (optional)


Peel the onion and cut it in half, leaving the root end attached to the onion for easy slicing. Place the flat side down and cut even slices. Soak them in salted water for 5 min. Wash under cold running water. Set aside.

Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold the fish fillets over medium heat; add enough oil or clarified butter (I always have clarified butter on hand, or butter is just fine)

Season the fish with salt, black pepper, paprika, turmeric, cumin powder, and red chili powder.

Add fish to the skillet (presentation side down) Sauté the fish, turning once only halfway through the cooking Process. Sauté until just opaque in center, and firm to the touch, about 4 to 5 minutes per side depending on how you like it. If you like well done it might take 5 to 8 minutes. (Keep in mind the carryover* cooking time) Transfer fish to a platter. Repeat with remaining fish.

Add onions to the same skillet. On low heat add crushed garlic, lemon juice and cilantro. Turn off the heat and add tomatoes; Season it with salt and pepper. Once its slightly cooled, add the baby spinach and toss.

Note: Handle the fish as little as possible. Fillets are delicate; moving them around too much will break them up. So flip them once and lower the heat to cook them gently on the other side.

I wouldn’t recommend broiling it because of spices; they might burn even before fish is cooked.

Carryover cooking* It means it will continues to cook even after being removed from the heat

Thank you for visiting my blog, I look forward to your comments or questions!

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