Pan Fried Cod with Mustard Caper Sauce and a Winner

Pan fried cod with mustard caper sauce served with simple salad and eggplant caponata

Purchasing seafood for our weekly fish dinner finds me experiencing my weekly mini-anxiety issues. What will they have…will I know what it is…how much will it cost…will I be able to cook it…if it’s wild caught…how fresh is it… really, should I just buy it from the frozen section…should I just go with the dependable farmed salmon…actually, those chicken breasts in the next section look familiar and easy.

I’ve lived land-locked all my life. As soon as the pan is heated and the fish unwrapped, I cross my toes and fingers for a edible outcome. Cooking fish seems like such a fickle event for me. So fickle that I compare it to the science of baking a yeast-based bread. So with all that said, I’m blaming our altitude and humidity on every inedible piece of fish that’s hit our dinner table. HA.

I wanted a white fish this week. The fish counter found us with the option of either $12 per pound cod, $12/pound turbot, or $30/pound sea bass. The “fishmonger” tried to steer me toward the turbot. I’ve never had it…don’t know what it is. He said it had a milder flavor than cod, a “lighter fish”. I was leery.

I didn’t want to spring for that chunk of expensive Sea Bass, which was on sale at $30/pound, so chose the cod. As he pulled those thin, long skinny pieces of fish to the scale for their weigh in, I automatically pictured them overcooked and mushy. Sometimes I think it’s harder to cook a thin piece of fish than a thick one.

See how stressful this is? I probably even have you reaching for the Valium.

Thanks to a medium-high heat and my trusty cast iron skillet, I ended up with a pretty good sear on one side. It cooked in a flash with no chance for turning to brown on the other side, I rushed it to our plates and topped it with the sauce.Tender and flaky.  Whew.  The mustard caper sauce was quite a lively flavor paired with the cod. And we loved the super simple salad with was easily tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. This is a quick meal compliments Real Simple.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Pan Fried Cod with Mustard Caper Sauce
Recipe type: Entree
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 6-ounce pieces skinless cod, halibut, or striped bass fillet
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large head Bibb lettuce, torn (about 6 cups)
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, capers, tarragon (if using), 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 2 tablespoons water. (If necessary, adjust the consistency with more water until the sauce is spoonable.)
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the cod with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until opaque throughout, 4 to 7 minutes per side.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the lettuce, cucumber, and onion with the lemon juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Drizzle the cod with the mustard-caper sauce and serve with the salad.

The winner of my Texas Brew Salsa Giveaway is a fellow Colorado Food blogger, Jane over at the The Healthy Beehive. Even though she lives pretty close, we’ve never met in person. Jane has more energy than I can imagine. Even with a full-time job she manages to find time to make her own “everything”. I’ve really enjoyed following her blog.

Congrats Jane, please send me your address. And thanks to everyone who entered.

Pan Fried Cod with Mustard Caper Sauce…It’s What’s for Dinner.

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  1. says

    ahh thank you! I will send you an email. I must say though, that fish buying stresses me out too! I want to try sea bass sometime, but it is just so expensive!

  2. says

    I totally feel your anxiety when it comes to buying a cooking fish. My personal favorite is halibut, but between the rarity, cost and sustainability issues, I usually default to flounder, Dover sole or opakapaka which the fishmonger at Whole Foods says that always usually have on hand. Even though I grew up on the coast I am by no means an expert. I just like something very mild in flavor. This looks like a delicious topping. I’ll be sure to give it a try next time I feel brave enough to buy fish.

    • Lea Ann says

      I totally agree with the Halibut “thing”. I don’t think I’ve ever tried flounder and most certainly will buy that opakapaka next time. Thanks Karen.

  3. says

    We eat fish or seafood at least three times a week, yet I never seem to think of cod. You’ve give me a reason with this yummy sounding mustard & caper sauce. Sea bass is off the charts expensive. I only eat it if we’re in a very good restaurant and I trust the chef.

  4. says

    Way to go LA, it looks just right and I really like the sound of the sauce. I should have tossed a bag of our lake crappie in the freezer to bring to you.

  5. says

    Beautiful photo! That mustard caper sauce sounds like such a great topping for pan-fried fish. Especially a white flaky fish like that. Yum!
    I am also a chicken of the sea (food) except for wild caught salmon and catfish. If you ever see fresh flounder, go for it and bake it with lemon, wine, butter & garlic.

    • Lea Ann says

      Thanks for the compliment on the photo Vickie! I’ve never purchased flounder. Next time I see it, I’ll most certainly buy it.

  6. says

    It’s amazing, isn’t it? A piece of fresh halibut can cost more than a filet mignon (and it’s caught right off the Oregon coast!) Your dinner looks so delicious and I can’t wait to try the mustard-caper sauce. I agree with you about cooking the thin pieces. They usually cook so fast. So much stress…

  7. says

    I’ve never really cooked a fish … I mean, we eat fish, but “industrial” ones. I never dare to cook a “real” fish ! I know it’s stupid. Most of all I live close to the sea !!
    So, sometimes, we go to eat fishes in restaurant.

  8. says

    Great post! I think that caper and mustard sauce would great on anything. Heck, I’d probably eat a shingle if it had enough of that sauce on it ;). I’ve made a similar salad dressing and loved it on seafood.

    If you get a chance, try the dry-cured capers – just capers and sea salt. The flavor is outstanding.

    • Lea Ann says

      Thanks Dave! And LOL, I agree about the shingle/mustard caper sauce. I’ve seen those capers, I’ll pick some up next time.

  9. says

    I have a freezer full of sea bass I caught in Oregon this summer, makes me think the $100 I spent on chartering the boat wasn’t such a bad deal after all!

    I’m definitely trying this one with some of my bass…



  10. says

    I usually rely on salmon also for our fish dinners – or rainbow trout. Sometimes, I find cod a little bland but topped with your mustard caper sauce it sounds delicious!

  11. says

    beautiful Lea Ann, ya can’t go wrong with capers and lemon on flakey white fish… I have never heard of turbot either so I had to google it – turns out it’s a fancy name or similar to our bay flounder, which I love….
    very nice recipe and a job well done – BTW.. bet that mustard sauce (and my Bordelaise reduction) would go great with that chicken in the case… have a great weekend

    • Lea Ann says

      Well gosh, do you think they could have told me about turbot at the counter???? :/ I’ll buy it next time. I agree about your sauce and chicken. Your sauces are amazing.

  12. says

    Your meal sounds great especially with the sauce. Try turbot the next time it is available…one of my favorites as it has a lovely mild flavor much like flounder or sole. I can’t believe how expensive seafood is in the middle of the country.

    • Lea Ann says

      Re: seafood costs, Karen you haven’t seen anything yet…you should see the price of Lobster. :/ That’s why you’ve never seen it on my blog.


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