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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recipe: Pan-fried parrotfish with Bechamel sauce

Pan fried parrot fish in bechamel sauce
Pan fried parrot fish in bechamel sauce

My favourite thing about Mombasa isn’t the beaches or hotel, although they are pretty high on the list. It’s the food, especially the seafood.

Some of my earliest memories involve going fishing with my dad, taking our fresh catches and barbecuing it almost as soon as we get back on land. In fact, at one point, we had a small little fishmonger shop. It was a seafood lovers' haven, fresh crab and octopus and almost every fish available.

Although it’s been more than 20 years since I lived in Mombasa, each time I go, I make sure to come back with a cooler full of fresh fish. And this week’s recipe uses some beautiful parrotfish that was found for me. If you’re going to use it, it's better to get it prepared for you and if you can’t find parrotfish, any white fish can also work.


6 ounces fillets of parrotfish (can use any white fish)

2 tbsp. of butter

4 cloves of garlic

Tbsp. salt

3tbsp whole black pepper

Chopped parsley

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Béchamel sauce

5 tbsp. unsalted butter

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk

Pinch nutmeg

½ tbsp ground pepper

Salt to taste


  1. Pat dry your fish fillets ensuring that they are completely defrosted. Season both sides with salt and ground pepper.
  2. Heat a heavy non-stick or cast-iron skillet over a high heat. Once hot, add the butter and allow to brown slightly then place the fillets into the pan, laying them down away from your body.
  3. Lowering the heat, let the edges of the fish caramelise for about 3 minutes, before gently turning the fish over.
  4. Tilt the pan letting the butter pool at one end and add whole or chopped garlic and the thyme to it, then using a spoon, baste the fish until completely cooked through.
  5. For the béchamel sauce, melt the butter over a low/medium heat then add the flour, mixing till you get a smooth paste. Don’t add the milk at once, but in small amounts, mixing well so you have a smooth sauce. Season with ground pepper, salt and nutmeg.
  6. Add the sauce to the pan with the fish and cover on a low heat for 2-4 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley just before serving. Enjoy with a side of potatoes and don't forget the glass of chilled dry white wine.

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