I have a number of reasons for loving winter in California [especially Redlands], but one of the list-toppers is the fact that winter is citrus season. Days that start off with a fresh grapefruit at breakfast and end with fresh-squeezed lime juice in homemade guacamole at dinner are some of the best. It’s at this time of the year that farmers’ markets become saturated with delectable orange, grapefruit, lime, and lemon crops, which is great news for the citrus-loving folk among us! Can anyone say ‘free samples’?!
Not only are they absolutely delicious, but citrus fruits are also a great source of vitamin C. This important vitamin serves to promote a strong immune system for fighting off those winter cold and flu bugs, so it’s a good thing that citrus season coincides with sick season! Besides immune health, vitamin C has antioxidant properties that make it a factor in reducing oxidative stress. A reduction in oxidative stress improves vascular health and reduces cancer risk, and that’s a benefit worth pursuing when you consider the environmental pollutants we are exposed to every day.
One of my recent trips to the farmers’ market inspired me to create a salsa of sorts using all of the wonderful citrus fruits currently in season here. I found a great recipe over on the blog E is for Eat that got me excited to make my own version to share with you all. Besides being an avid citrus fruit lover, I also have a strong affinity to fish, and what better way to enjoy a fresh citrus salsa but on top of piece of seafood?! Jaymee over at E is for Eat had similar thoughts, which is probably why I was so drawn to her idea of winter citrus salsa on pistachio-crusted white fish. Plus, fish is an excellent source of the fats that support a whole bunch of cellular functions to keep our bodies working smoothly, so this dish is really a win-win-win situation!
The original recipe wasn’t quite suited for gluten-free eaters, so I decided to substitute the bread crumbs with almond meal. This resulted in a delightfully nutty flavor for the crust along with a boost in nutritive value. Another win-win-win, in my opinion! You can select any of your favorite types of white fish for this recipe, though I would recommend halibut caught off the California coast or in Alaska for its healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids and light flavor. Just make sure to check into the sustainability factor of the fish that you purchase. Do your best to avoid farm-raised fish and chose a wild variety. A great source for information regarding current issues of overfishing and contamination is Seafood Watch, an organization that researches the sustainability of different types of fish and their harvesting methods to help consumers make informed decisions in purchasing.
I have a couple of tips for you as you dive into this delicious endeavor. First, be sure to process the almonds and pistachios to a fine flour when preparing the crust because anything too coarse will not stick to the fish very well. Feel free to top the fish with some of the extra nut mixture before popping them in the oven; I am a huge fan of the nutty flavor, so the more the tastier! You could probably use any of your favorite nuts and have an equally delicious result, in case pistachios aren’t your thing. Also, the coconut oil will give the fish a slightly coconuty flavor, which is a great surprise if you like coconut, but if not, feel free to substitute butter or ghee. When finishing the dish, be generous with the citrus salsa! The tastiest bites are those that have a little bit of everything. Oh, and don’t forget the avocado. It offers a great diversity in mouthfeel and texture!
I hope you take advantage of this beautiful winter season to load up on that in-season, locally-grown, vitamin-packed citrus! Enjoy!
- 3 blood oranges
- ½ grapefruit
- 2 tangerines (or mandarins)
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 4 endive leaves, chopped
- juice of half a lime
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 4 white fish filets
- Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tablespoons organic, cold-pressed coconut oil
- 1 avocado, diced
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Zest the blood oranges and collect 1-2 tablespoons in a dish. Peel and segment the oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines over a bowl to collect the juice. Add juice to the reserved zest and set aside.
- Combine the segmented citrus with the jalapeno, shallot, cilantro, endive, and lime juice. Season to taste with sea salt, toss gently and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Use a food processor to finely chop the pistachios and almonds.
- Add mustard to the reserved zest and juice mixture in a shallow dish. Put nut mixture into a second dish.
- Season fish with salt and pepper. Dip in citrus-mustard mixture and dredge in nut mixture.
- Heat coconut oil in a large fry pan. Fry each piece of fish for 2-3 minutes per side or until the nuts start to brown. Transfer to oven and cook 5-8 minutes or until the fish flakes with a fork.
- Top with citrus salsa and avocado. Serve immediately.