Pan-Seared White Fish with Harissa-Fennel and Capers

5 from 1 vote
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Pan-seared white fish with harissa-fennel and lemony capers makes for an elegant yet easy dinner. Serve over pasta, potatoes, or your favorite whole grain for an instant crowd-pleaser. Pan-Seared White Fish with Harissa-Fennel and CapersFriends. This dish defines feel-good comfort food. It’s exactly what I want to be eating on a cold, wintry night with a glass of wine and some Michael Buble playing in the background. (Y’know, to drowned out the sound of my rocker neighbor playing his guitar and my dog whining next to me on the kitchen floor.)

BLISS, I TELL YOU.Pan-Seared White Fish with Harissa-Fennel and CapersI find myself incorporating harissa in my condiment rotation a lot more often once the temperature starts dropping. This irresistibly smoky-spicy condiment can perk up everything from fried eggs to marinades and spreads. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the anise-y flavor of fennel, adding a bright kick of acid and nuanced depth.

Fennel is also my jam this time of year. Both the bulb and fronds have a signature licorice flavor that turns sweet and sultry when the bulb is caramelized. Paired with a briny kick from the capers, this dish is rich and hearty in all the right places.Pan-Seared White Fish with Harissa-Fennel and CapersIn terms of fish, I’d recommend using a mild variety like halibut or cod, both of which are meaty, flaky, and affordable. The fish picks up plenty of acid and flavor between the harissa, lemon, and sautéed fennel.

This recipe is aesthetically pleasing enough for entertaining, yet simple enough for any given weeknight. And it’s basically begging to be added to your dinner rotation this week.

5 from 1 vote

Pan-Seared White Fish with Harissa-Fennel and Capers

Pan-seared white fish with harissa-fennel and lemony capers makes for an elegant yet easy dinner. Serve over pasta, potatoes, or your favorite whole grain for an instant crowd-pleaser.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 lb. skinless boneless firm white fish fillets (such as halibut or cod)
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb sliced thin or shaved on a mandoline, fronds reserved for garnishing
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. mild harissa paste
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice divided
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. capers
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  • Season fish with 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium. Add fennel, shallots, and 1/4 tsp. of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, harissa, and 1 Tbsp. of the lemon juice; cook 1 minute, stirring often. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to pan. Cook fish until browned and crisp, 5-6 minutes. Turn; cook until just opaque in the center, 2-4 minutes more. Add reserved fennel mixture and capers mixture; toss to coat.
  • Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice over top. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 551mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

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  1. Elaine says:

    An easy to make elegant dish. I was looking for something that combined halibut, fennel and harissa and was lucky enough to have this come up first. I combined it with a side of cauliflower gnocchi which perfectly balanced the spicy sauce.

  2. Stefanie says:

    5 stars
    Another absolute beauty of a recipe! Made this last night for two of us, with cod (skin on), and the harissa fennel/shallot mixture on top was a gorgeous combination of flavours for it. My partner is very lucky that I didn’t devour his portion too. I served it with a carrot mash from Ottolenghi and a big green salad. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

    1. dishingouthealth says:

      Hi Stefanie! So thrilled to hear that you enjoyed this one—it’s one of my favorites! Cheers and I hope you had a lovely weekend.