Lemon-Garlic Fish with Sweet ‘n Sour Pepper Sauce

Welcome spring by brightening your next meal with this sweet and sour citrus pepper fish recipe!


For the marinade

  • About 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 small fresh red chili pepper, seeded
  • Zest of 1 lemon (use zested lemon in another recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 4 pieces black cod, mahi-mahi or halibut (8 ounces each) – ask for sustainable seafood

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2 flat anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 Fresno chili pepper or Italian cherry chili pepper, sliced
  • 1 red mild pepper, frying or bell, halved and sliced
  • 2 cubanelle peppers (mild green frying peppers), halved and sliced
  • 1 red onion, quartered and sliced
  • A small handful of black, oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped or pitted Sicilian green olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers or capote capers, drained
  • A few leaves of sweet basil, torn or chopped
  • A pinch of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 can petite diced or crushed tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Crusty bread, for mopping


Combine the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process and pour into a plastic bag. Add the fish and refrigerate for a few hours or up to overnight.

For the sauce, heat the EVOO, two turns of the pan, in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the anchovy paste or fillets and stir to combine and dissolve. Add the garlic, chili peppers, mild or frying peppers, cubanelle peppers and the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes to soften. Add the olives, capers, basil, oregano and sugar; stir. Douse the pan with vinegar and stir again. Add the tomatoes and simmer to thicken, 10 minutes more. Add salt, to taste.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the plastic bag, shaking off the excess marinade. Cook the fish for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.

Serve the pepper sauce over or under the fish with crusty bread alongside for mopping.

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