Italian Pan Fried Fish Recipe

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This Italian pan fried fish is a simple weeknight dinner that delivers on flavor. Made with pan-seared tender white fish simmered with cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs, it’s a lighter dish that will become a staple on busy nights! 

Pan fried fish in a black pan.

 

When done right, fish can be so delicious and while I am not the biggest fish lover, this Italian pan fried fish might have changed my mind for an easy weeknight meal! 

Tender white fish filets are sauteed with a fresh tomato pan sauce flavored with garlic and fresh herbs for a tasty weeknight dinner that is fresh, light and packed with flavor. It’s similar to my Italian baked fish marinara but done in less than 30 minutes. 

I used perch like I do in my Italian baked fish and chips but halibut or cod work, too, that is unless your halibut is being used for my baked stuffed halibut. Come to think of it, maybe I like fish recipes more than I let on! 

Why You’ll Love Easy Pan Fried Fish

  • Easy to make: This pan-fried fish is a great go-to recipe when you don’t know what to make for dinner! It comes together quickly and always tastes great. 
  • Simple ingredients: A meal that has minimal ingredients but maximum flavor is what Italian seafood and fish dishes are all about!
  • Tender and flavorful: This pan-fried fish with a cherry tomato pan sauce is not only light and flavorful but ready in less than 30 minutes!

Recipe Ingredients

  • Olive oil: I like to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Garlic: You will need one whole clove of garlic that you will gently flatten with a knife. 
  • Tomatoes: 10-15 cherry tomatoes or datterino tomatoes.
  • Italian parsley: Fresh parsley adds fresh herby taste.
  • Fish: You will need one pound of white fish fillets such as perch, halibut or cod. Frozen or fresh fish works, if frozen thaw first.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavor of the flaky fish and pan sauce.
Ingredients for the recipe.

Substitutions And Variations

  • Additional herbs: Add some rosemary and fresh basil like I do in Italian pan fried tomatoes.
  • Splash of white wine: For a saucier fish, add up to ¼ cup of dry white wine after the tomatoes have cooked down and before adding the fish to pan fry. 
  • Lemon: Add the zest of a lemon or some fresh lemon juice to the pan tomato sauce to brighten the flavors.
  • Capers and black olives: Adds additional briny taste. Add in a Tablespoon or two within the last few minutes of cooking time. 
  • Red pepper flakes: If you like a little spice, add some crushed red pepper flakes in with the garlic.
  • Parmesan cheese: A sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan is always welcome before serving! 

How To Make Italian Pan Fried Fish

To start, in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat on the stovetop, heat the olive oil and garlic, add the cherry tomatoes and parsley, saute. 

Tomatoes, garlic and oil in a skillet before and after sauteed.

Next, add the fish, cover in the sauce from the tomatoes, sprinkle with additional parsley then cover and cook on low or medium.

Cooking the fish in the pan with the tomatoes.

Uncover the pan, then gently flip fish over and cook until the fish is cooked through. Spoon sauce over the crispy pan-fried fish and serve immediately.

The cooked fish in the pan.

Expert Tips

  • Non-stick pan: White fish is delicate so using a non stick helps when you flip it. If the fish sticks, it’s not the end of the world but it is best if it stays intact. 
  • Burst tomatoes in the pan: Squeezing the cherry tomatoes in the pan not only creates the best delicious smells but makes them more flavorful and saucy. 
  • Frozen fish: Ensure your fish is thawed completely then patted dry. 
  • Avoid overcooking: Fish cooks fast. To avoid dry and rubbery fish be careful to only cook the fish until it flakes easily with a fork. 
  • Finish with a squeeze of lemon: Or garnish with lemon wedges. This brightens the fish and tomato flavors for a wonderful finish.
Fish on a white plate with a fork.

Recipe FAQs

How To Tell When Fish Is Done Cooking? 

Your white fish filets are done cooking when they are transparent in color and opaque. They will also cut easily with a fork. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 145°F. 

What To Serve With This Pan Fried Fish Recipe?

For a simple weeknight dinner, this goes great with a grain or a side of pasta. For a larger crowd, I serve Italian seafood salad as a starter and my parmesan ham and potato casserole for a hearty side dish option. A side of crusty bread is always a great choice! 

Can I Make This Recipe Ahead? 

This recipe for pan seared fish is best ate right away. Fish is delicate and doesn’t hold up well when reheated. That being said, I have made excellent use of leftovers and turned them into a seafood pasta recipe with great results.

How To Store Leftover Pan Fried Fish With Tomatoes? 

Store leftovers in an airtight container for a day or two. Leftovers taste great flaked over fresh salad greens. Another great use for them would be in seafood pasta.

More Italian Seafood Recipes

Fish on a white plate.

If you are looking for a simple dish then I hope you try this Italian Pan Fried Fish so good and so easy! Buon Appetito!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (whole flatten gently with a knife)
  • 10-15 cherry, grape or datterino tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 3-4 tablespoons Italian parsley (finely chopped) divided
  • 1 pound piece of perch halibut or cod or fish of choice
  • 1-2 pinches salt

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • In a medium-large skillet, on medium-high heat warm the olive oil and garlic, add the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of parsley and sautee for 3-5 minutes. I usually cook them longer up to 10 minutes and I squish them, we like the tomatoes cooked well.

  • Add the fish and turn to cover in the sauce from the tomatoes, sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of parsley, top 1-2 tablespoons parsley, cover and cook on low/medium for 3-5 minutes then flip over, uncover and cook for an additional 3 or 4 minutes until fish is cooked (opaque and flakes when cut with a fork and not transparent) there should still be some sauce in the pan. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Of course cooking time may vary with the thickness of the fish. 
If you wish you can add capers and or black olives if desired. Add in the last 1-2 minutes of cooking time. A couple of tablespoons would be enough I think.
Your white fish filets are done cooking when they are transparent in color and opaque. They will also cut easily with a fork. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 145°F. 
This recipe for pan seared fish is best ate right away. Fish is delicate and doesn’t hold up well when reheated. That being said, I have made excellent use of leftovers and turned them into a seafood pasta recipe with great results.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for a day or two. Leftovers taste great flaked over fresh salad greens. Another great use for them would be in seafood pasta.

Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 174mg | Potassium: 417mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 495IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 2mg

Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Updated from January 25, 2016

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