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Fish Fillets with Cherry Tomato Sauce (18 Minutes)

A mildly spicy, citrusy cherry tomato sauce with just a few ingredients turns baked fish fillets into a delicious jazzed-up dinner in under 20 minutes.

We use cod fillets in the recipe, but other mild white fish fillets would work just as well.

cherry tomato sauce over white fish fillets

This is a simple fish fillet recipe that is equally good for a weeknight meal or a casual family or friends dinner.

It’s quick and easy with lots of variations to try. And pretty on the plate, especially served with some greens.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

cod fillet pieces, butter, oil, Thai sweet chili sauce, salt, parsley, lemon, orange, cherry tomatoes
Ingredients: fish fillets, cherry tomatoes, oil, lemon, orange, butter, sweet chili Thai sauce, seasonings

Fish: I use cod fillets, but you can just as easily use haddock, pollock, tilapia, black cod, grouper, seabass, or mahi-mahi. Even salmon would be good. Just be sure to cook the fish for more or less time, depending on its thickness.

Tomatoes: Instead of cherry or grape tomatoes you can chop up fresh ripe tomatoes such as plum tomatoes. Or use diced canned tomatoes with most of the juice drained.

Herbs: I use parsley in the sauce. Basil, dill, cilantro or thyme would work well too.

Sauce: The cherry tomato sauce is flavored with orange and lemon juice and zest as well as Thai sweet chili sauce. Options: Instead, you can try a garlic-oregano combination spiced with red chili flakes. Another option is a Moroccan flavored spicy cherry tomato sauce – delish! In fact, you can choose to poach the fish directly in the sauce. Use as much or as little heat/spice as you like. 

Step by step instructions

uncooked cod fish fillet pieces on plate
Oil and season fillets.
baked cod fish fillets
Bake the fish in the oven until it flakes easily and is still moist in the center
halved cherry tomatoes. lemon and orange zest
Prepare cherry tomato sauce ingredients.
cherry tomato sauce in pan
Cook cherry tomato sauce on the stovetop.
baked cod fillets covered with cherry tomato sauce over cauliflower spinach rice 1
Spoon the sauce over the top of the fish fillets.

Tips on how to tell when fish is cooked

The fish will still be moist with a mother-of-pearl look and very slightly transparent. It will separate easily with a knife. It should not be dry and stringy i.e. overcooked.

The rule of thumb is 10 minutes per inch (2.5cm) thickness of the fish. So a 1-inch thick fillet will take 10 minutes at the 400-425F/217C temperature.

The FDA would say white fish should be cooked to 145F/ 62.8C. Many people nowadays, including me, prefer a more medium cook to 130-135F (266-275C) using an instant read thermometer.

Make Ahead

The sauce can be made a few days ahead of time. Don’t let the cherry tomatoes break down fully as they will do that when you are reheating the sauce before serving.

What to serve with the fish

I love to serve these baked fish fillets with lemon herb cauliflower rice or jasmine rice with spicy chili crisp.

Other side dish suggestions are Parmesan roasted cauliflower, microwave green beans, asparagus, easy roasted bok choy and broccoli or a simple side salad with maple balsamic dressing.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use frozen fish fillets?

Yes, just defrost them in the fridge before baking.

Can I pan fry the fish fillets instead of baking them?

Yes, about 4-5 minutes per side if fillets are 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.

baked cod fillets covered with cherry tomato sauce over cauliflower spinach rice p3

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cherry tomato sauce over white fish fillets
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Fish Fillets with Cherry Tomato Sauce (18 Minutes)

A mildly spicy, citrusy cherry tomato sauce with just a few ingredients turns baked fish fillets into a delicious jazzed up dinner in about 20 minutes.
Prep Time6 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Total Time18 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 (or 3 smaller portions)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh cod fillets, skinned, Note 1
  • kosher salt, black pepper, dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Cherry Tomato Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or chopped plum tomatoes)
  • 1/2 large orange (zest and juice)
  • 1/2 large lemon (zest and juice)
  • 2 tablespoon Sweet Thai chili sauce, for mild-moderate spiciness (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 1/2 tbsp oil and 1/2 tbsp butter at the end)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions

  • HEAT OVEN OR TOASTER OVEN to 425F/217C. Line a pan or baking dish with parchment or foil, sprayed with oil (for easy clean up).
  • BAKE FISH FILLETS: Pat fish dry with paper towels. Rub oil over entire surface of the fish and generously sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. **see Tip below** Bake fish on prepared pan in a single layer for 8-10 minutes (figure 10 minutes per inch (2.5 cm) of thickness) just until fish is cooked through, separates easily with a knife but still slightly translucent on the inside. Internal temperature of fish with instant thermometer should be about 130-135F for medium.
    ** TIP: If fish is not even thickness, cut into pieces, separating thick and thin as this will affect cooking time. Cook the thicker pieces for a few minutes before adding the thinner pieces which will take less time to cook.
  • MAKE THE SAUCE: While fish is baking, heat 1/2 tbsp oil on medium heat in a saucepan. Add all other sauce ingredients (except parsley) and cook for about 5-7 minutes just until tomatoes start to break down. Use the back of a large spoon or spatula to smash them a bit if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, a pinch of sugar, more chili sauce, etc. Stir in 1/2 tbsp butter (if desired) and the parsley.
  • PLATE: Transfer fish to a plate. Spoon over cherry tomato pan sauce and serve.

Recipe Notes

  1. Cod substitutes: Feel free to use another type of fish like haddock, pollock, tilapia, black cod, grouper, sea bass, mahi-mahi. Even salmon would be good. Just be sure to cook the fish for more or less time, depending on its thickness.
  2. If your fish has a fishy smell (most have some), squeeze some lemon on it to remove the smell  – or soak it in milk for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Sauce variations and substitutes:
    • Tomatoes: Instead of cherry tomatoes, you can use grape tomatoes or chop up ripe fresh tomatoes (plum tomatoes would be good). Or use diced canned tomatoes with most of the juice drained.
    • Fresh herbs: Instead of parsley in the sauce, try basil leaves, dill, cilantro or thyme.
    • Add-ins: Try adding chopped kalamata olives or a pinch of red pepper flakes for extra spice. 
  4. Cauliflower rice side dish (optional): If you want to serve the fish dish over cauliflower and spinach ‘rice’ as pictured – made in 10 minutes – try our recipe for lemon herb cauliflower rice stir fry. Place 2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach in food processor along with the cauliflower when chopping to ‘rice’, then stir fry together for about 4 minutes. Alternatively, buy cauliflower rice, cook according to directions and add a couple of tablespoons of pesto or chopped spinach. 
  5. Make Ahead: The sauce can be made a few days ahead of time. Don’t let the cherry tomatoes break down fully as they will finish cooking when you are reheating the sauce before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates based on cod fillets. 

Nutrition

Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 889mg | Potassium: 1299mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 1054IU | Vitamin C: 65mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg
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