Jeanna Shepard

This technique for cooking firm, white fish is a popular chef’s trick often used in restaurants, but it’s great for home cooks, too. By searing the fish filets (skin side up) on the stovetop first, the filet takes on a beautiful golden color, which also seals in moisture. Then, after flipping the filets, you put the whole pan in the oven where the indirect heat finishes baking the fish through. The whole process is quick — about five minutes on the stovetop and five to seven minutes in the oven, depending on the thickness of the filets. 

There are infinite ways to dress up seared striper, but you can start with the two I've given you here. The first is for late summer: a Summer Tomato-Fresh Corn dressing that can be made ahead (and definitely before you start cooking the striper). The second is perfect for fall (Derby season): a Shiitake and Spinach Sauté with Parmigiano that you can use as a bed for the striper. 

Make the dressing ahead and just spoon it on the fish before serving.

A note on the size of filets: If you ask for 1 1/2 pounds of striper at the fish market, you’ll probably get one long filet. If possible, choose a piece that is on the thicker side — about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches — and evenly thick at both ends (or close). When you get the piece home, cut it in half crosswise first and then cut each of those two pieces in half again (lengthwise) so that what you end up with is pieces that are closer to squares or squat rectangles rather than long thin strips. These are easier to handle in the pan and make for a nice presentation.

Serves 4

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the flour on a plate. Season the fish filets with salt and dredge the filets in the flour, lightly coating them on all sides.

2. In a large nonstick ovenproof sauté pan (or a cast iron pan), heat the butter and oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted and the pan is hot, add the fish filets, flesh-side down. Cook without disturbing until the bottoms are a nice golden brown, about five minutes. (Depending on your stove, you may need to adjust the heat up a bit.)

3. Gently turn the filets over (I use tongs) and put the pan into the oven. Cook until the filets are firm to the touch, between 5 and 7 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes.

5. Serve each filet with a generous portion of the tomato corn dressing spooned over it. Or arrange each striper filet on a bed of the shiitake spinach saute.