Fish with Lemon and Caper Sauce

Rated 4 out of 5
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Piccata is a traditional Milanese preparation in which a pan sauce of butter, lemon juice and capers is spooned over thin slices of sautéed veal. But that same trio of ingredients is also used in southern Italy as the basis of a sauce for white fish, especially those with a delicate texture. Simple steamed vegetables are a good accompaniment.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • 2 tsp. capers, preferably salt-packed
  • 4 mahimahi or other firm white fish fillets, each 6 to 8 oz.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon


If using salt-packed capers, place them in a small bowl, add cold water to cover and soak for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse well and drain again, then pat dry on paper towels. If using vinegar-packed capers, rinse under cold running water, drain and pat dry.

Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Arrange the fish in the pan and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and opaque throughout but still moist looking in the center when tested with a knife, 6 to 8 minutes total. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, transfer the fish to a warmed platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice, increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the sauce thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, capers and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the warm sauce over the fish and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking, by Charity Ferreira, Dana Jacobi & Carolyn Miller (Oxmoor House, 2008).

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Way too much lemon Should have cut back even more on the lemon than even the other reviewers stated. Be very careful with the lemon because you have both juice and zest. I cut back on the lemon and it was still overwhelming. To try to cut the tangy-ness and bitterness, I added a little bit of sugar, but then it came out too sweet. My husband shoved all of the sauce aside to the best of his ability.
Date published: 2017-12-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Careful this needed help Whoa, way too much lemon. If I use this again I'll try one teaspoon lemon and adjust at the end.
Date published: 2016-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delicious! I typically find that I need to tweak recipes but this one was perfect as is. Do be sure to follow the instructions and rinse your capers or it will come out very salty. I did use Cod instead of a firm white fish because it was the freshest available. As such, it made it harder to keep it all in one pretty piece but it was still delicious.
Date published: 2015-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great with Swordfish Easy sauce to make. All the ingredients are probably at hand, except for the fish of course. Liked the sequence of the ingredients.
Date published: 2014-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick, Easy, and Tasty I made this tonight for a quick dinner. It was very tasty, although a bit lemon-y for my taste. When I make it again, I will use 1/2 tsp of lemon zest instead of the zest of a full lemon.
Date published: 2014-02-26
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