July 16th, 2018

Ess, Ess/ Eat, Eat!

Simple seafood secrets create a multidimensional flavor, taking your dinner to another level

 Ellie Krieger

By Ellie Krieger

Published Jan. 20, 2016

Simple seafood secrets create a multidimensional flavor, taking your dinner to another level

Photo by: Goran Kosanovic --- For The Washington Post
Fish and lemon --- well, of course. They are a natural pair, classic for a reason. But lemon isn't the only citrus that makes fish sparkle. Now, at the height of the citrus season, there is a wide and wonderful variety to explore with color, bright acidity and multidimensional flavor that can take your seafood dinner to another level.

The sauce for this dish brings together grapefruit and orange in an enticing and exciting way. I use red grapefruit for its color and gentle pucker, and a navel orange works perfectly along with it. But if cara caras are available, try that orange variety, which has a stunning pink hue and lovely sweet-tart balance.

Once you segment the citrus over a bowl and collect the juices, you use them to make a simple yet elegant pan sauce that takes all of 10 minutes. You just saute shallot in a bit of olive oil, add white wine and then a touch of honey and butter to give the sauce a silky richness and balance the tartness of the fruit to come.

All the while, the halibut (or whatever mild, white flaky fish you prefer) is roasting gently and evenly in the oven, a method that is one of the surest ways to get it done right and makes for a stress-free cooking experience. With grilling and pan-cooking, the fish cooks fast - blink and it could overcook - but those methods require you to flip the fillets, upping the chance that they will fall apart.

Roasting eliminates all of that: Place the fish in a preheated oven and cook it for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. It's as foolproof as it gets.

You finish the sauce by adding the citrus segments and juices along with sprinkle of fresh tarragon, for a fragrant hint of anise. Just shake the pan a couple of times as it all warms through - gently, to avoid breaking up the plump citrus segments. Then serve the sauce spooned over the fish, and relish the taste of the sun and surf in a whole new way.

Roasted Halibut With Citrus Wine Sauce

4 servings


3 tablespoons olive oil

Four 6-ounce skinless halibut fillets

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 red grapefruit

1 navel orange

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (from 2 medium shallots)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Brush the bottom of a shallow baking dish with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil, arrange the fish in the dish, then brush the tops of the fish with another 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil. Season the fish with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and all of the pepper. Roast until just opaque, about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Transfer to the stove top (off the heat); cover to keep warm if the fish is done before the sauce is ready.

Meanwhile, cut off the top and bottom of the grapefruit and orange, then remove the pith and peel of each by standing the fruit on one of its cut ends; follow the curve of the fruit with your knife, slicing downward around the fruit. Then, working over a bowl so the citrus segments fall into the bowl and you catch all the juices, use a paring knife to remove each segment of the grapefruit and orange from its membrane.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the shallots and cook, stirring until softened and beginning to brown on the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine; cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until it has reduced by about half.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; stir in the butter, honey and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt until well blended. Add the citrus segments and their accumulated juices, then sprinkle the tarragon over the sauce. Shake the pan or stir gently once to distribute, and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes.

Serve the fish topped with the sauce.

Nutrition | Per serving: 370 calories, 33 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 9 g sugar

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Krieger's most recent cookbook is "Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)