Sear-Roasted Haddock or Cod with Horseradish Aïoli & Lemon-Zest Breadcrumbs


Serves four.

Sear-Roasting isn't a technique just for restaurants; you can—and should—do it, too. It's one of the best ways to prepare fish so that it has a gorgeous, delicate crust and is still moist inside, and it takes just minutes.  

For the lemon-zest breadcrumbs:
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs (from a rustic loaf)
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the horseradish aïoli:
  • 5 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 3/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the fish:
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 thick skinless haddock or cod fillets, about 6 oz. each
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 lemon
  • About 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 425°F.

Make the lemon-zest breadcrumbs: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until golden and crunchy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Stir in the lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature.

Make the horseradish aïoli: In a small bowl, mix the aïoli ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Sear-roast the fish: Heat the oil in a heavy 12-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. When the oil is shimmering hot, arrange the fillets evenly in the pan, skinned side up. Sear for about 2 minutes, without moving; then use a slotted metal spatula to lift a piece of fish and check the color. When the fillets are nicely browned, flip them and remove the pan from the heat.

Spread the seared side of each fillet with some of the aïoli and then a layer of breadcrumbs. (You may or may not need all of the aïoli and crumbs.) Put the pan in the oven and roast until the fish is cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

While the fish is roasting, put the parsley leaves in a small bowl; cut the lemon in half and squeeze some juice from one half over the parsley, to taste. Drizzle the parsley with enough extra-virgin olive oil to lightly coat the leaves, season with salt and pepper, and toss. The parsley should taste bright and lemony. Cut the remaining lemon half into four wedges.

When the fish is cooked, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the fillets to plates. Top each with some of the parsley salad and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with a salad of Arugula with Hearts of Palm, Grapefruit, and Oil-Cured Olives.

Drink Suggestions

Try a dry, fruity rosé like the 2006 Château La Rouvière Bandol Rosé ($22).

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 510, Fat (kcal): 37, Fat Calories (g): 330, Saturated Fat (g): 5, Protein (g): 34, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16, Carbohydrates (mg): 10, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 3, Sodium (g): 620, Cholesterol (g): 105, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Scott Phillips

I thought was bland. Used panko and added sliced celery and celery leaves to the parsley salad which was great otherwise followed the recipe. It did come together quickly and you can make the breadcrumbs and aioli ahead of time so its a very quick dinner. Just needed to be punched up a bit.

Very good and easy! And if you don't have horseradish around, you can replace it (along with the tomato paste) with at least the same amount (more to taste) of shrimp cocktail sauce.

Delicious and easy. Have actually tried on chicken thighs...very yummy. It is now my go dinner for company.

My husband and daughter loved this dish. I think I didn't have the oil heated high enough before adding the fish. It never became golden brown. But the flavor was delicious and the fish was flakey and moist. I used orange zest which was nice and bright.

We have been making this since 2011. Absolutely delicious!


Really, really good. My husband was concerned that it would be too "horseradish-y" but it was not; quite perfect. When I saw this recipe was by Tom Douglas I trusted it immediately, and my faith was not misplaced. Easy restaurant-quality dish.

I used this recipe on halibut. It was easy to make and very good. Very light and fresh! I also served a salad with my halibut so I probably could have skipped the parsley but it was pretty on top. I will make again.

This is a terrific recipe with a few minor changes. I used panko instead of breadcrumbs because it is lighter and crunchier and goes well with fish. I only needed about 3/4C of panko for 4 fillets. I also increased the horseradish to 3 tsp. and the garlic to 2 tsp. to give the aioli more punch. This is one of our favourite recipes for haddock or cod (the other being Cod with Mushrooms, Garlic and Vermouth).

One of the most delicious recipes for cod ever. I followed the directions exactly and the fish came out wonderful. My husband, who tends to be a picky eater, asked me what was in the topping and he loved it. Sounds like a lot of work but really goes together like 1-2-3.

This was absolutely delicious. I made it for Easter dinner and everyone loved it! I hate to admit that I even used frozen fish because we sent my dad to the grocery store... I used Light Mayo, which was still very flavorful! I did have a lot of the Aioli and breadcrumbs left over, so I will cut down on the quantities next time! This is my new favorite fish dish!

My new favorite fish recipe!

This has become one of our all time favorite cod recipes. My husband goes deep sea fishing and actually catches the fish for us (part sport, part therapy from a stressful job!), we are using our own homemade horseradish, and, instead of searing on stove top, we are putting a little olive oil on the fish and putting it on foil on a pizza stone on the gas grill. Preheat with the stone in place, to 500 degrees. Slide the fish on the oiled foil onto the stone. Cook, undisturbed for 6 minutes, then remove the fish (still on the foil), flip and spread the aioli and breadcrumbs on top for the final finish (another 4 minutes--or until the breadcrumbs are slightly singed). It all comes togeher VERY quickly. Since the last fishing trip in April, this has become "sunday dinner" at our house!

This is an easy weeknight recipe to prepare and we loved the horseradish aioli and the breadcrumbs. It is definitely a make again recipe.

Marvelous. Everyone wanted the recipe and it's so easy.

Thanks to this technique and this recipe, I can finally prepare fish at home that I like! The preparation takes no time at all and the results are truly restaurant-quality. I used Alaskan Halibut and, because it was a weeknight and I was cooking for one, I substituted dry breadcrumbs from the grocery store (and discovered when you use these, you need to skip the toasting step and just toss them with the olive oil and lemon zest).

I especially loved the horseradish aioli and the lemon-zest breadcrumbs.

Moveable Feast Showtimes

Find out more about the show

Season 4 Sponsors
Moveable Feast eBook Download

New to Fine Cooking Magazine?

Sample an Issue

Cookbooks, DVDs & More


Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking is a production of
WGBH Boston and distributed by American Public Television.