chef and owner of "Le Bernadin," recommends drying fillets with a paper towel and seasoning them just before cooking since salt draws out moisture,
which prevents a golden crust. The Maillard Reaction, which gives seared food colour and flavour, requires a dry surface and high temperatures.
Thomas Keller of "The French Laundry" gently scrapes a thick fillet with a chef knife to draw out moisture before using a paper towel
Ripert avoids butter because it contains up to 18% water and steams the fish instead of browning it.
Chef Steve Hodges says "gotta be ghee" for flavour without moisture. Hodges uses ghee, an ancient Indian fat with a high smoking point,
to sear and fry fish instead of oil, which makes it greasy. Ghee is shelf-stable, flavorful, and can withstand high cooking temperatures.
It is made by heating unsalted butter until the water evaporates and the milk solids are strained.