Serves 2 to 4 | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 15 Minutes | <35 Minutes | Gluten-Free 

We truly believe there’s a white fish for every taste. If you like mild and meaty, halibut is probably your jam. A little more oceanic assertiveness? You might be more of a snapper person. Firm, flaky, and affordable? Try cod! Whatever your preference, this elegant, classic, quick way of cooking will let the fillet shine. If you don’t have herb butter at the ready, you can make do with salted butter, but we urge you to take the extra few minutes to mix up that herby goodness. It really does take this recipe from good to stupendous, and with very little extra effort. Rinsing the olives before adding them to the pan might seem a bit odd, but because olives are quite salty on their own, you don’t want to risk any of their briny oil creating an oversalted situation.


  • 1/2 cup Herb Butter or 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter

  • 1 small shallot, finely diced

  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest

    The Modern Proper CookBook cover The Modern Proper: Simple Dinners for Every Day (A Cookbook) Holly Erickson and Natalie Mortimer
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

  • 1 pound white fish, such as cod, halibut, or sea bass, skin removed, cut into 4 pieces

  • 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, rinsed and smashed

  • Freshly cracked black pepper


1. Heat half of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and beginning to bubble, add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. 

2. Add the orange zest and juice, vinegar, and the remaining butter. Once the butter has melted, add the fish. Cook, occasionally spooning the butter over the fish, until the fish is opaque and flaky, 8 to 10 minutes (see Notes). Add the olives and cook until just warmed through, about 1 minute. Season with pepper to taste. 

Notes: Spooning butter over the fish—called basting—is best achieved by carefully tipping the pan so the butter pools a bit and is easier to get to.

If your pieces of fish are thicker than 1 inch, flip them halfway through cooking and test for flakiness beginning at 8 minutes.


This recipe could really be called Any Herb Butter because the technique works well with just about any fresh herb you love, adding bright flavor wherever it goes. It’s a great way to preserve the bounty of your garden, too. 


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt


1. In a small bowl, combine the butter, herbs, and salt. Mix well to incorporate evenly and completely.

2. Transfer the butter to a piece of parchment. Using the paper, roll the butter into a log about 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Close the parchment paper around it and twist the ends to seal. Refrigerate the butter until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Wrap the butter and parchment in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Unwrap and slice to use.

Excerpted From The Modern Proper: Simple Dinners For Every Day. Copyright © 2022 By Holly Erickson And Natalie Mortimer. Photography Copyright © 2022 By Eva Kolenko. Reproduced By Permission Of Simon Element, An Imprint Of Simon & Schuster. All Rights Reserved.

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