What's Cooking: Pan Seared Triggerfish | South Carolina Aquarium

What’s Cooking: Pan Seared Triggerfish

May 26

What’s Cooking: Pan Seared Triggerfish

Triggerfish may be a smaller species of fish, but they make up for it with big taste. Their white meat has a similar taste to crab meat when it’s cooked, and has a sweetness that differentiates it from other fish. Under U.S. regulations, U.S. wild-caught gray triggerfish are sustainably managed and responsibly harvested, making it a great choice for your dinner table.

We are going to be cooking up some pan-seared triggerfish from Wicked Inlet Seafood with Blistered Tomato Bruschetta over White Rice.



Triggerfish Filet, 7-9 ounce, 2 each
Kosher salt, as needed
Black Pepper, as needed
Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
Butter, unsalted, 2 tablespoons


Water, 2 cups
Carolina Plantation White Rice, 3/4 cup
Coriander, ground, pinch
Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Black pepper, pinch
Butter, unsalted, 2 teaspoons


Olive oil, 2 teaspoons
Red onion, chopped, 1/4 cup
Garlic, finely chopped, 3 cloves
Cherry Tomatoes, halved, 1 1/2 cups
Red vinegar, 2 tablespoons
Juice of a lemon, 1 each
Fresh mint, chopped, 3-4 leaves
Fresh basil, chopped, 5-6 leaves


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and place on a plate lined with paper towel.  Pat the fish filets completely dry and allow to rest on the counter.  Prepare your onion, garlic and tomato for the Bruschetta and set aside, keeping the tomato separate.
  2. Prepare your rice: In a small saucepot, bring 2 cups of water, coriander, salt, pepper, and butter to a simmer, then stir in rice. Bring the rice to a gentle simmer, reduce heat to a low flame, just enough to hold the simmer, cover, and allow to simmer for about 18–20 minutes until tender (it may be a little less time.) When it is ready, set aside covered. Fluff with a fork when you are ready to serve.
  3. In a large oven-safe skillet pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl it around the pan. Allow the oil to get very hot but not smoking.  Carefully wipe the pan with a few dry paper towels, making sure to completely grease up the pan.  This will season your pan and help the fish not to stick.
  4. With the pan still hot over a high medium heat, heat the remainder of the oil and all the butter until the butter starts to simmer. The oil butter mixture should not be turning brown or smoking, but it must be hot. Quickly, generously season the top side of your fish filets with salt and pepper and place seasoned side down. Then season the top side of the fish with salt and pepper.  After about 10-15 seconds, with a turning spatula, gently slide under both fish filets and move a touch to make sure it is not sticking.  If your pan was hot enough, a nice sear should already be started and you should not have any trouble.  Once the butter starts to brown slightly, tilt your pan and start spooning the butter over top of the fish, about 5-7 times each.  Let your fish cook for 3 minutes and then carefully flip.  Spoon more butter over the cooked side.  Allow to cook for 1 minute and slide into the oven to finish cooking the very center.  Next, work on your Bruschetta topping. (While you are on step 5, check the fish for doneness, it may or may not be ready before the bruschetta is ready) **See Chef’s Note for tips about doneness.
  5. In a small, preferably nonstick pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil, over a high medium heat and add the onions and garlic and cook for 45-60 seconds, until the garlic starts to brown. Add the halved tomatoes and season with a little salt and pepper and toss. Once the tomatoes start to blister (about 30-45 seconds) add the vinegar and lemon, tossing to incorporate, allow to simmer for about 30-45 seconds.  Add the basil and mint, toss then remove from heat.
  6. Once your fish is ready, separate the rice on 2 plates. Top the rice with 1 filet of fish each and then divide the blistered Bruschetta over top both filets.  If you would like, chop up a little fresh basil and mint and garnish the top of the dish and add a little fresh cracked black pepper.

**Chef’s Note: You will know when your dish is done when the center of the fish easily flakes apart. 

Learn more about Wicked Inlet and where to find their seafood:

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