Pan Fried Cod in a Citrus and Basil Butter Sauce

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Cod is a versatile white fish. Tilapia is cheaper, but I like the thickness of cod better because it’s easier to work with. Cod’s not as pricey as halibut, and I must tell you, I’m watching prices these days. It’s kinda funny though. I always think of fish sticks when I think of cod. It deserves a better rep. So let’s make cod fancier.

You don’t have to do much to cod to make it taste delicious. I found this simple recipe on Foodness Gracious for this recipe. It’s pretty much perfect.

In a bowl, zest an orange and lemon. Then, squeeze the juice. I love my squeezers and highly recommend them.

Citrus Cod

Add some olive oil, mix it up, and then pour it over your fish. Let this soak up for about 30 minutes, or more, if you can stand it. I get sort of impatient with marinades.

Citrus Cod

Preheat your oven to 250F. Yes, it’s low, but it’s all good. You’ll see.

After 30 minutes, heat up an oven-proof skillet with some olive oil until it’s hot. Shake the excess marinade from your fish and place it in the pan. You’re going to be saving this marinade for a sauce. Cook each side for about 4 minutes. Season it with some salt and pepper because bland fish is no good. Leave it in the skillet and put it in the oven so it stays warm. I suppose you could skip the whole oven situation, but it’s a nice touch. No one likes cold fish. Unless it’s salmon over a delicious salad, but that’s for another day.

Time to make your sauce. Melt some butter with some brown sugar in a pan and throw in the marinade. Squeeze a couple more oranges and add the juice. Boil it up and be patient. It needs to thicken and I swear it will eventually. It took me about 7 minutes, which doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is if you’ve never done this before and you’re staring at it (hurry up and boil, why don’t you!). But take my advice. You basically want to coat your spoon with the sauce and call it good. When it finally does thicken, throw in some shredded basil. Taste it. Add some salt and/or pepper if it needs it.

Citrus Cod

Pull your fish out of the oven and pour the sauce over it. Garnish with some more basil and serve with your favorite starch, like bread or rice. I think I had some leftover mashed potatoes that worked quite nicely.

Citrus Cod

I’m trying to incorporate more fish into my diet and this dish is an easy way to do that. It’s fancy while being easy. It’s light for summer without being too heavy. I think you’ll really like it!

Pan Fried Cod in a Citrus and Basil Butter Sauce

Servings 4


  • 1 pound cod
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup basil


  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Lay the cod in a shallow pan or baking dish. Combine the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon, juice from the orange and lemon you just zested, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Pour over the fish. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a large oven safe skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until hot. Carefully shake the excess marinade from the fish, saving it, and drop the fish into the pan. Season the fish with some salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, and then flip and repeat on the other side. Place the fish into the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
  • In another smaller pan, melt butter, and add the brown sugar and remaining leftover marinade from the fish. Slice the remaining orange in half and squeeze the juice into the pan. Bring to a boil, whisking regularly until the sauce has thickened slightly and reduced by almost half, about 7 minutes. The sauce should coat the spoon.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of finely shredded basil leaves to the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Bring the fish from the oven and place on your plate. Spoon some of the thickened sauce over it. Add more basil if desired.
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