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Pan-Fried Snapper with Buttery Parsnip Puree

"The fishmonger is our friend," says Mary Ellen Carroll. She means that literally: Her friend Michael Isabell, who films her Itinerant Gastronomy projects, was a fishmonger. For the ICA dinner, Isabell suggested using a seasonal fish caught off Cape Cod that day. Any meaty, flaky white fish, like red snapper, sea bass or cod, would work.

slideshow  More Seafood Recipes

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Eight 6-ounce flaky white fish fillets with skin, such as red snapper, sea bass or cod
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Balsamic-Glazed Red Onions, for serving


  1. In a large saucepan, cover the parsnips with cold water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer the parsnips over moderate heat until very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the parsnips well, reserving 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the parsnips until coarsely chopped. Add the reserved cooking liquid and 2 tablespoons of the butter and season with salt; process until smooth. Return the parsnip puree to the saucepan and keep warm.
  3. Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, then dredge them in the flour; tap to remove any excess flour. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in each of 2 large nonstick skillets. Add 4 fillets to each skillet, skin side down. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  4. Spoon the parsnip puree onto warmed plates. Top with the fish fillets, skin side up, and serve with the Balsamic-Glazed Red Onions.

Make Ahead

The parsnip puree can be refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Picolit from Italy's Friuli region is versatile enough to pair well with both this delicate fish and the buttery parsnip puree.

Contributed By Photo © Maura McEvoy Published March 2006

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