orange roughy in lemon cream sauce

Fish can seem intimidating to prepare if you’re not already a whiz in the kitchen, but the truth is that it’s pretty simple to make a delicious fish dish in just about no time that looks and tastes like it was prepared by a gourmet chef. This orange roughy recipe from food blogger and recipe developer Kate Shungu comes together in a breeze. You’ll pan sear the fish in a bit of butter so that it forms a nice crispy crust on the outside, then lather it in a tangy lemon cream sauce.

"I love that this recipe is fancy enough for company, yet easy enough for a weeknight meal," Shungu says. And once you master the preparation technique, you could swap out the fish in this recipe to whatever fish strikes your fancy. "This recipe would work well with tilapia, cod, or even salmon," Shungu notes. So, the next time the craving for fish strikes, give this orange roughy recipe a whirl. The hardest part will be resisting the urge to lick the serving platter clean!

Gather the ingredients for this orange roughy recipe

fish and other ingredients

When it comes to fish, less tends to be more, since you want the fresh flavor of the orange roughy to shine through. For this recipe, you’ll need a couple lemons, heavy cream, chicken stock or water, garlic, butter, salt, pepper, and of course, orange roughy. Zest one lemon, and then juice the lemons until you’ve got 3 tablespoons worth of juice. You can slice the remaining lemons to garnish the finished dish. If you’d like, you can also chop some fresh parsley to sprinkle over the dish at the end for an extra special presentation.

Prepare the lemon cream sauce

whisking white sauce in pan

This simple fish dish is all about the lemon cream sauce, which should be prepared first so that it’s ready to pour over the fish the instant it comes out of the pan. Combine the lemon zest and juice, chicken stock or water, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisking regularly, bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Continue to stir or whisk occasionally as the sauce cooks for about five minutes to help it come together and keep it from scalding on the bottom.

Get your fish ready to cook

fish on cutting board

Hopefully, your fish is already thawed in the fridge before you begin this recipe, but if your fish is frozen, don’t despair. "To quickly defrost fish, place it in a resealable plastic bag, seal the bag, and run cold water over the fish until it has defrosted," Shungu advises. "If the fish is in vacuum sealing already, there’s no need to place it in a bag — just run the water over it while the fish is still in its packaging."

Once your orange roughy is thoroughly thawed, pat the fish dry with paper towels. Starting with a dry cut of fish will help it develop a nice crust when it’s seared in the pan. Season the fish fillets with ¾ teaspoon of salt and black pepper.

Sear the fish

fish in skillet

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and the skillet is hot, place the roughy fillets into the butter, and cook for two to three minutes. Once a golden crust has formed on the bottom, flip the fillets, and cook for an additional two to three minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

"For the best insurance to keep fish from sticking, use a nonstick pan," Shungu says. "If you’re not using a nonstick pan, make sure to wait until a nice crust has formed on the fish. Then, flip it. The fish will naturally release from the pan as the crust forms."

Plate your orange roughy

spooning fish out of pan

Once your fish is cooked through and nicely browned on both sides, it’s time to serve it. Place the seared fish onto a serving platter, then spoon the decadent lemon cream sauce over the top. If you really want to bring your presentation to the next level, sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley over the top, and garnish with thin slices of lemon. As for a side dish, Shungu suggests serving the fish over or alongside rice, which is excellent for soaking up the delicious sauce.

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock or water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds orange roughy, cut into 4 to 6-ounce fillets (defrost, if frozen)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Optional Ingredients

  • fresh chopped parsley, for serving
  • lemon slices, for serving
  1. Place the lemon zest, lemon juice, heavy cream, chicken stock or water, minced garlic, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  2. Pat the orange roughy dry with paper towels. Season with ¾ teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Place the roughy fillets into the butter, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Place the orange roughy fillets on a serving platter, and top with the lemon cream sauce.
  6. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon slices, if desired.