Blackened Sheepshead with Basil-Lime Cream Sauce is the ultimate summertime entree! This recipe features Florida-caught sheepshead whitefish that's blackened with LOADS of seasoning and drizzled with a homemade basil-lime cream. It's the perfect balance of bold and light!
Blackened Sheepshead with Basil-Lime Cream Sauce
OK, so here's the story. Patty and I are hanging out in Florida, enjoying the sun and the warmth. We have some very cool neighbors upstairs, Mark and Jan. Mark goes fishing every week and the other day we hear a knock at the door. Mark caught some sheepshead fish and says, "Hey, want some fish?" Um, yeah, man! Sure! Sheepshead is a wonderful whitefish, nice and flaky, with a mild flavor that lends itself to blackening or grilling.
As with most whitefish, you don't want to overdo it with the accompaniments. You want that fish to shine through! But! I can tell you that most whitefish, and particularly sheepshead, stands up to a healthy dose of seasoning. So please, FEEL FREE to season the HECK out of that fish and sear it up just like I did! Get that pan nice and hot and add plenty of seasoning, the sear these babies up until they are cooked through and still nice and moist on the inside.
I didn't go crazy with the accompaniments here. Just a simple basil-lime cream over the top, with a bit more lime juice splashed over everything, with a side of sliced avocado rounds everything out. Can we say "Perfection"? YES! I do love a good fillet of fish. Go grab yourself some sheepshead, because this easy dinner recipe will be a new summertime staple in your kitchen!
Ingredients in this Sheepshead Recipe
- Olive oil
- Sheepshead fillets
- Seasonings - You'll need a medley of paprika, cayenne, granulated garlic and dried basil. Don't forget the salt and pepper, of course!
- Jalapeño pepper
- Avocado slices
For the cream sauce:
- Crema - Sour cream also works.
- Lime juice and zest
How to Make Blackened Sheepshead with Basil-Lime Cream Sauce
See the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
Prepare. Heat up some olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
Season the fish. Season the whitefish fillets your medley of bold blackening seasonings.
Cook the fish. Sear the tops of the seasoned fish fillets in the hot pan for just about 2 minutes, then flip and sear for an additional 2 minutes. Add a splash of water and cover the pan. Continue to cook for another few minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and moist within.
Make the jalapeño garnishes. While the fish is cooking, add the jalapeno slices to another hot pan with a small splash of olive oil. Cook them for a few minutes on each side until crispy.
Make the cream sauce. Make your sauce by simply whisking together the sour cream, lime juice, zest, and basil.
Garnish, serve, and enjoy! Drizzle the cream all over the fish and serve it with your crispy jalapeno slices, lime wedges, and a bit more lime zest over the top. I also like to serve mine with a few slices of avocado on the side to really freshen things up!
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Don't over cook the fish. If you let your whitefish cook for too long, it'll dry out like crazy.
- Use fresh ingredients. Fresh lime juice and sliced jalapeños/avocado garnishes add SO MUCH fresh flavor to this sheepshead recipe.
- Adjust the spice level. Add more or less cayenne to control how spicy your seasoning mix is.
Storage and Reheating
Once your cooked fish has cooled to room temperature, you can transfer it to an airtight storage container and pop it in the fridge. Properly stored, it'll stay fresh for about 2 days. Store the cream sauce in a separate container.
When you're ready to serve it, reheat the fish back in the pan over medium-low heat. Flip on both sides and allow it to reheat until warmed all the way through.
Blackened Sheepshead with Basil-Lime Cream Sauce Recipe
- Olive oil
- 4 6-ounce Sheepshead fillets
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 jalapeno pepper sliced into rings
- Lime slices for serving
- Avocado slices for serving if desired
FOR THE CREAM SAUCE
- ½ cup crema or sour cream
- Juice from half a lime
- Zest from half a lime + more as needed
- 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- Heat olive oil in a large pan to medium-high heat.
- Season the whitefish fillets with the cayenne, paprika, garlic, basil and salt and pepper.
- Sear the tops of the fish in the hot pan for about 2 minutes, then flip and sear another 2 minutes. Add a splash of water and cover. Cook another few minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and moist within. Do not overcook or it can become dry.
- While the fish is cooking, add the jalapeno slices to a hot pan with a splash of olive oil and crisp them up. It should take a couple minutes per side. Remove from heat.
- Make your cream sauce by whisking together the sour cream, lime juice, lime zest and basil.
- Drizzle the basil-lime cream over the whitefish and serve with crispy jalapeno slices, slices of lime, and a bit more lime zest over the top.
- I like to serve mine with a few slices of avocado on the side.