pan fried yellowtail in smoked chilli, salt and pepper with garlic & parsley butter

pan fried simply with seasoning and garlic, parsley butter

crispy, succulent and a little bit spicy

Freshly caught yellowtail is a glorious fish and like all fantastic ingredients requires the  minimal amount of interference to cook into something delicious.

However, spear shot yellowtail is something you can only dream about getting your hands on. The quality and the texture is far superior to that which has struggled on the end of the line. There is no lengthy battle between man and creature, with muscles tightening and stress being created. The fish gets killed instantly whilst happily swimming around in its habitat.

My friend Dirk is an adventurer of note and continues to inspire me.  From building his own yacht from scratch, then sailing it up the east coast of Africa, to free diving and spear fishing  in the ocean. An endurance MTB racer and ex kite surfer, he is a beautiful free spirited human being and I so enjoy time spent with him. He married a very good friend of mine, has two delightful children and lives in Canada. The time I get to spend with them all is very precious to me, and we have a lovely arrangement, Dirk hunts and gathers and I often land up doing the cooking.

Dirk with the fish he shot and in the water

The yellowtail I made in this recipe was part of the many fish he shot recently in the South African spear fishing championships. When I visited them a couple of weeks ago at their house on the sea, I pan fried the fish in small fillets which I dusted in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. A knob of butter and squeeze of lemon juice in the pan, was all that was required to make the perfect meal.

Dirk in action during the spear fishing competition in Feb and bringing home the dinner

I was lucky enough to bring home some more of the yellowtail and knocked something similar up.

To a handfull of flour I added a good few pinches of smoked salt, lots of black pepper and a few grinds of smoked chilli flakes for a little extra kick. I sliced the fish into small fillets and dusted each piece in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking off any excess.  I fried them in batches in a pan with olive oil.  I melted about a tablespoon of garlic and parsley butter and drizzled it over the fish and served with fresh lemon.

I cant wait to visit them soon and hopefully get play in the kitchen with more of the oceans bounty.

goujons of yellowtail fillets drizzled with garlic and parsley butter

fresh and succulent


21 Responses to pan fried yellowtail in smoked chilli, salt and pepper with garlic & parsley butter

  1. Ming-Cheau March 13, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    So I haven’t eaten yet tonight. I’m terribly hungry now after seeing your post. The photos of the “catching-the-fish in action” are so cool! Nice one Sam!

  2. Jaclyn March 13, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    I echo Minglet’s sentiments, Sam – with just a cup of hot choc for din-dins, you are killing me over here! It looks completely delish, and you used that gorgeous blue plate again! I love it!

  3. Sam March 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Thanks Ming, thought it was nice to show the whole food chain especially since it was with such aplomb that this meal came about.

  4. Sam March 13, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Thanks Jacs, am so going to have to try not use that plate too often #overexposure :-). S x

  5. jules March 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Sam, sitting here in London, that yellowtail looks simply amazing!!! Would kill for a night outside with some lovely fish and vino under the stars! Enjoy! x

  6. Matt Allison March 14, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Sam, gosh it’s midnight and I so feel like a snack right now… lovely shots, both of the food and Dirk.

  7. Sam March 14, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Thanks Matt!

  8. Sam March 14, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Hi Jules, ja fresh fesh and white wine is something we should never take for granted. S x

  9. Lori March 14, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Stunning post about how simple food has to be. Cant wait to try it myself!

  10. Alida March 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    This looks so good I almost started crying just looking at it! Gorgeous photo’s Sam! 🙂

  11. Sam March 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Thanks Alida xx

  12. fati February 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    hey SAM

    just got me a whole Yellowtail at a supermarket in Durban,South Africa and was looking for some inspiration. i cant wait to try this recipe. looks divine and so easy.

  13. Sam February 18, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    Thanks Fati, let me know how it goes 🙂

  14. Alva January 16, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    It is so hot here in Johannesburg, SA this evening that your receipe sounded like just the meal we could enjoy outside when it gets cooler AND so easy. Tks.

  15. Sam January 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    HI Alva, I hope you enjoy. Its also been very hot in Ct lately.

  16. Bruce September 27, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    How long do you pan fry the smaller fillets?

  17. Sam September 28, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    HI Bruce, just a few minutes until cooked, fish cooked very quickly.

  18. Tendayi February 11, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

    So appealing!

  19. Sharon G-K November 19, 2015 at 4:55 am #

    Could use some help. I purchased yellowtail fillets from a local roadside truck recently. They would not remove the skin for me. Tried to pan sear them and they curled up and didn’t cook right – very tough!

  20. Sam November 19, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Hi Sharon, if you score the skin (make a few slits half way through) that normally prevents fish from curling when you pan fry. Alternatively cut them into smaller pieces like I have done. Im not the biggest fan of yellowtail. I tend to prefer it cooked whole on the braai.


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