Pan Seared Lake Fish

Pan Seared Lake Fish with Melon-Cucumber-Radish Salsa

Use Perch, Pickerel or Catfish for this hot-from-the-skillet crispy delight

The contrast of hot-from-the-skillet crispy, buttery fish and cool, crisp, fresh and fruity salsa is one of summer’s special pleasures.

Tarragon adds a surprising hit of licorice flavour, but if you’re not a fan, use mint instead. Either way, it’s super-easy to make, and really, summer cooking should be just that. Make the salsa up to a couple of hours ahead and chill well before serving. To turn this into a heartier meal, add a side of rice or quinoa or a stack of warm corn tortillas.

Makes 5 cups of salsa; serves 4


1/2 cantaloupe, balled or diced (about 1 1/2 cups)1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
6 red radishes, finely sliced
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, finely diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp pepper + extra for finishing
4  4 to 6 oz portions of fish
About 2 tbsp or more fat for frying (vegetable oil, butter, lard or bacon drippings)


In large, non-reactive bowl (glass is best), gently stir together cantaloupe, onion, radish, cucumber, jalapeno and bell peppers and tarragon leaves until combined. 

Stir in lime zest and juice, salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper until combined; taste for saltiness and adjust if needed; cover and set aside in fridge to chill. 
Rinse fillets in cold water and pat dry with clean kitchen towel. 

Over medium-high heat, get large, heavy (cast iron is best) skillet smoking hot. When a drop of water dances over the surface of the skillet, add oil, then lay in fish, skin side down. Fry until skin is crispy and fish can easily be peeled away from skillet, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook just long enough to add a little colour to the meaty surface, about 2 minutes. 

Serve fish atop generous scoop of salsa, or on bed of rice, quinoa, bulgur or another starchy grain with salsa on top. 

TIP The long single blade on the side of a box grater is perfect for slicing the cucumber and radish super-thin.

Images Credit: Tristan Pierce

Signe Langford
Signe Langford

From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for such publications as: LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015. She studied Fine Art History and Humanities at the University of Toronto, and York University; she graduated with honours from OCAD University; she earned her Wine Specialist Certificate from George Brown College.

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Posted on Monday, September 13th, 2021
Filed under Food | Recipes
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