Zest for Life

Citrus + seafood = an unbeatable combination

Text by Liz Scott

When combining seafood and citrus, you're limited only by your imagination. We've all seen the ubiquitous lemon wedge perched on the rim of a shrimp cocktail glass. But why not go further?

Oranges, mandarins, and tangerines impart a hint of sweetness to entrées, while tart grapefruit add a sophisticated edge. For an exotic twist, try a bright orange rangpur lime (a lemon-mandarin hybrid).

Feeling juiced? We have still more ideas. Kumquats aren't technically citrus―botanists have given them their own classification―but their sweet orange rinds and tangy pulp have the same zesty flavor. Also, heirloom pomelos, big forerunners to modern grapefruit, are making a comeback at farmers' markets in citrus-growing regions.

Citrus tastes good with seafood because its acid cuts through fish oil. Use the juice and pulp in sauces to complement any of your favorite dishes. The strong, uncompromising taste of lemons and limes works well with the oiliest fish―salmon, halibut, tuna, and mahimahi. More delicate oranges pair with the subtle shellfish flavors of scallops, shrimp, and mussels. But don't be afraid to create your own combinations. Even tender white fish such as sole can stand up to grapefruit or lime sauces, and salmon is fabulous with kumquats.

One easy way to add zesty citrus flavor to a seafood dish is to squeeze it into your pan while cooking the fish. Add a few tablespoons of fresh lemon or lime juice to a skillet with olive oil, butter, and a fresh fillet to create a quick, tasty dinner. A few paper-thin fruit slices make the perfect garnish.

The winner of the 2006 Great American Seafood Cook Off featured an amazing combination of seafood and fruit. Representing Florida, Justin Timineri wowed judges with his Seared Snapper and Passionfruit-Coconut Milk Sauce with a zesty Citrus-Fennel Salad.

Salmon with Orange Pan Sauce

Lemon-Lime Tilapia

Wine Pairing
A Fumé Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, or crisp Chardonnay will complement any citrus-seafood dishes (perhaps served with a tossed green salad and crusty French bread) for a light, refreshing supper.