A Flash in the Pan but not a Flashy Fish Recipe

Sometimes it is easy to forget how a handful of readily available ingredients are all that it takes to make a simple fish taste so good.


This couple of ‘orata’ (sea bream) were caught from near Civitavecchia, or so the fishmonger told me as he gutted them and removed their scales.  One orata for me, one for hubby, they weighed about 700 g each.  When I got home, I rinsed them again in running water, and patted them dry.


I put some flour aside for coating them later on.

3In the saucepan to start with: olive oil, butter and some sweet paprika.

4Once the heat was turned on, I added some garlic, minced parsely and about a teaspoonful of coriander.

5After flouring the fish on both sides, I lay them gently into the bubbling olive oil and butter.

6I did my best to turn them over without removing any of the skin, but as you can see, I wasn’t entirely successful.

8I had some white wine on standby.

7Once I deemed the fish to be cooked, I placed them over a bed of plain peas seasoned with a little bit of butter and salt.

9I poured some wine into the saucepan, turned the heat up in order to let the alcohol evaporate, and then poured whatever lovely juices remained through a sieve all over the fish.

10On the table and ready to be served.  Doesn’t look like much, and yet is was so satisfying (all that butter folks! and the nuance of paprika and coriander) and very pleasant to eat.

11Also on the menu was saltwort which had been blanched first and then cooked through in another saucepan which was waiting for it with crispy guanciale (pork jowl) and all that that entailed.  It’s the first time I served ‘barba di frate’ or ‘agretti’ as saltwort is called in Italian this way.  I know it won’t be the last.

I think it took me less than 20 minutes to make this dinner.

7 thoughts on “A Flash in the Pan but not a Flashy Fish Recipe

  1. I’m glad they caught your eye! The reason I included them was because, believe me, in ever such a naughty way, those agretti with guanciale were an absolute delight! Maybe you could buy seeds? Do they even exist I wonder … but then, how else do they grow the crops.?


  2. Thanks so much for this recipe! I’ve been making orata al forno with potatoes, but our new flat in Rome lacks an oven(!). The orata in our local fish market looked great today, and I wanted to try pan frying it and luckily found your recipe. We didn’t have coriander but I had some nice sweet paprika so cooked that up in the butter/olive oil and added the orate to the pan. The skin began to cook quickly, so after flipping the fish and letting it brown a bit I added a good portion of white wine (a castelli romani) and put a lid on it to steam for awhile. Turned out fabulous and the skin didn’t stick to the pan! Also served with agretti finished in guanciale. My in-laws are visiting and everyone just loved it. Can’t wait to try out your other recipes.


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