Fish piccata is made with a classic piccata sauce of lemon and butter accented with briny capers. This is definitely a meal you could serve to company. It’s also fast to make and uncomplicated.
I think everyone’s familiar with chicken piccata. You can just take the same lemony, butter sauce and apply it to fish.
In this case, I used Mahi-Mahi or Dolphin fish which here in Florida is always available fresh.
You could really make fish piccata with any variety of fish that you’d like or is available in your area.
I like to use mahi-mahi because it is a firm, flaky white fish that is usually fairly thick and easy to fry.
Making Mahi Mahi Fish Piccata
The first thing to do is to prep the fish. The Mahi I had came skin on, so I prefer to remove the skin. This is totally optional. There is nothing wrong with leaving the skin on if you’d like.
To do this, use a really sharp knife on a flat surface, and with the skin side down, use the knife to get a corner of the skin sliced away from the flesh.
Then use your fingertips to hold that flap of skin down and slide the knife, using a back-and-forth cutting motion, down the length of the filet between the skin and flesh.
You should end up with a slab of skin with very little flesh on it.
Mahi Mahi also has a pronounced bloodline which I generally remove. In the picture above you can see that there is darker meat on one edge.
Well, that was actually about 1/2 inch of dark red flesh, which is called the bloodline. It generally has a stronger, fishier taste so I remove it.
Season and Fry The Fish
The fish then gets a light coating of olive oil, then salt and pepper on all sides and coated lightly with flour.
Fry the fish in your favorite skillet in olive oil and butter on medium high heat. Wait for about one third of the fish to become opaque, and flip and fry the second side until the entire filet is nearly opaque.
Remove from the skillet. The fish will get finished off in the butter sauce just before serving.
Making The Buttery Piccata Sauce
Frying the floured fish in the skillet leaves a lot of black, burnt flour pieces so I like to take a paper towel and remove most of that before making the sauce.
Doing this is going to remove a lot of the olive oil and butter, so you’ll have to add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
Once the butter is melted, stir in 4 teaspoons of flour. Let that cook for a minute then whisk in the broth, lemon juice, and capers.
Let that cook down to thicken for a couple of minutes. Put the fish back in the skillet along with 2 tablespoons of diced butter.
Use a spoon to ladle some sauce over the fish to heat it back up, and to melt the butter. Then it is time to eat.
If at all possible, use fresh fish, not frozen. Although the quality of frozen fish has gotten better, fresh fish will be firmer and taste a bit better.
Use any type of firm white fish for this recipe. Besides Mahi, you could try cod, bass, grouper, snapper, haddock, walleye, or tilapia.
Taste your sauce. You may want to add a bit more lemon juice. I think that sometimes the lemon just overpowers the taste so I start slow and add as deemed necessary.
Fish cooks fast. The filets I had were fairly thick and still only took about 2 minutes a side in a hot skillet. Don’t overcook your fish. Let it finish cooking in the sauce right at the end.
Serve the fish piccata with sauce and capers drizzled over. Accompany it with your favorite side dish.
Here are a few more tasty Seafood recipes to try:
- Shrimp Penne with Vodka Sauce
- Cast Iron Skillet Seared Salmon
- Creamy Shrimp Scampi
- How To Make Crab Cakes
- Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos
Fish Piccata Made with Mahi Mahi
- 1 1/2 lbs Mahi mahi or other firm white fish
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 tbsp butter, divided
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 4 tsp all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chicken broth (I use Better than Bouillon, chicken base)
- salt and pepper
- Prepare the fish by removing the skin if necessary, (optional). Then lightly coat all sides with olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Place the flour in a bowl and dredge the fish pieces to coat.
- Place a large skillet on the stove on medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Fry the fish on the first side until about a third of the fish becomes opaque, (2 minutes). Flip and fry the second side until the sides of the fish filet or nearly completely opaque, (2 minutes). Remove the fish from the skillet.
- Wipe the skillet with paper towels to remove most of the burnt flour and then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat. Stir in a 4 teaspoons of flour and cook for 1 minute. (Using leftover dredging flour would be okay).
- Whisk in the broth to combine with the flour and stir until lump free. Then add the lemon juice and capers. Bring to a slow boil and stir to thicken, 2 minutes.
- Lower the heat to low and add the fish back to the skillet along with 2 tablespoons chopped butter. Spoon the sauce over the fish to heat back up and to melt the added butter.
- Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot with the sauce and the side dish of your choice.
- You can use any firm, white fish of your choice. Like cod, grouper, snapper, haddock, walleye, or tilapia. Use fresh not frozen if possible.
- Taste and add more lemon juice if desired.
- Dry white wine could be used rather than chicken broth. Or, use a combination of the two. I've also made it using the cup of wine then adding a teaspoon of Better than Bouillon chicken base for flavor.
This recipe post was updated on October 30, 2023.