Skillet Cod with Brown-Butter Tomato Sauce

Skillet Cod with Brown-Butter Tomato Sauce on plate.
Brown butter, or what the French call beurre noisette, is enhanced with summer tomatoes and a splash of vermouth for the superlative sauce in this weeknight fish dish.Jenny Huang

In this quick and easy weeknight dish, rich, nutty brown butter is brightened with barely-cooked fresh tomatoes and a splash of vermouth, then spooned over pan-seared cod. Use the sweetest cherry and grape tomatoes you can find, or substitute coarsely chopped heirloom tomatoes or even vine-ripe tomatoes.

Equipment

Skillet Cod with Brown-Butter Tomato Sauce
In this quick and easy weeknight dish, rich, nutty brown butter is brightened with barely-cooked fresh tomatoes and a splash of vermouth, then spooned over pan-seared cod. Use the sweetest cherry and grape tomatoes you can find, or substitute coarsely chopped heirloom tomatoes or even vine-ripe tomatoes.
Yield: serves 2
Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • Two 6-oz. skinless cod fillets, preferably “captain’s cut”
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced (¼ cup)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, thinly sliced (1 tsp.)
  • 7 oz. mixed cherry and grape tomatoes, halved (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. dry vermouth
  • 2 tsp. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

Instructions

  1. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels, then lightly season all over with salt and pepper; set by the stove. Hold a large, heatproof rimmed plate under hot running water to warm, then pat dry and set by the stove.
  2. In a large stainless-steel skillet over medium-high, heat the oil with 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the foam begins to subside, add the fillets and cook without disturbing until the fish is lightly browned and turning white and opaque about ¼ of the way up from the skillet, 1–2 minutes. Using a wide, thin metal spatula, gently flip the fillets, then continue cooking until the other side is lightly browned and turning white and opaque about ¼ of the way up from the skillet, 1–2 minutes more. Carefully transfer to the warm plate, cover tightly with an inverted bowl or aluminum foil, and set aside in a warm place to steam while you make the sauce.
  3. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and swirl to melt. Cook, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the skillet frequently, until the foam completely subsides, the solid milk particles sink to the bottom and turn a deep golden brown, and the butter takes on a toasted fragrance, 2–3 minutes. Add the shallot and cook, stirring and shaking the skillet continuously, until it just begins to soften, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring gently without crushing them, until they are heated through and beginning to soften and turn jammy, and their juices are silky and slightly thickened, 4–5 minutes. Add the vermouth and continue cooking until the alcohol evaporates, 15–30 seconds more; remove from the heat. Uncover the fish (it should now be cooked through), and if desired, transfer to a large rimmed platter or a shallow bowl. Pour the sauce over the fish, top with parsley, and serve immediately.