Lake Whitefish Recipes are especially delicious with a light, fresh salsa. The Citrus Avocado Salsa in this recipe is ideal with the crispy skin and succulent fish. This pretty dish is easy enough for a busy weeknight, and elegant enough for a weekend dinner party.
This Lake Whitefish recipe is lovely in the winter, spring and summer.
The refreshing Citrus Avocado Salsa is refreshing and light for spring and summer, and citrus season peaks in the winter.
This highlight of this Lake Whitefish recipe is the crispy skin. When the skin hits a hot pan and sears briefly, it crisps to perfection, and makes every bite of the tender fish even better.
The contrasting textures are amazing!
What is Lake Whitefish?
- Generally “whitefish” is used as a generic name for many species of mild-flavored, white-fleshed fish. They're found in Arctic and sub-Arctic fresh and salt water. The most valuable of these is Lake Whitefish, which live in cold, deep-water lakes in the northern United States and in Canada
- Lake Whitefish are silver freshwater fish that are related to salmon and trout.
*Click here for How to Cut Citrus*
How to Sauté Whitefish with Skin
Place the fillets, skin on, on a clean dry surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Flip the fillets over, and season the skin side with salt and pepper.
Generously coat the bottom of a large (not non-stick) skillet, preferably cast iron. Place it over hight heat. Once it's very hot, add the fish, skin side down.
Sauté for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat to low, cover, and continue to cook for another couple of minutes, until it's all almost opaque. The very center should still be a bit transluscent.
Remove them from the pan and serve them skin side up.
(More detailed instructions are below.)
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
- As I mentioned, the crispy skin is a highlight of this Lake Whitefish, so I wouldn't recommend removing it.
- It's very important that you preheat the pan enough before you sauté the fish. When the skin side of the fish hits the pan you should hear a sizzling sound. If you don't, it's not hot enough. Take it off and wait. Without the sizzle, the skin will not become crispy.
- Be careful not to crowd the pan when you sauté the fish. I usually sauté 3 (7 ounce) fillets at a time in a 14 inch pan.
- The Citrus Avocado Salsa recipe calls for granulated sugar to taste. Only add it if you find the fruit isn't as sweet as you'd like. It's not always necessary.
- This recipe calls for mint and basil. Feel free to change this up if you'd like -- cilantro would also be delicious. And you can use more of just one if you have a favorite.
- This recipe is gorgeous with blood oranges, which are in season in the winter.
- Any variety of orange works, and tangerines are great, too. I use Navel oranges because they're seedless and their texture is firm.
- Ruby grapefruit add great color to the salsa, but use any variety you like.
- I remove the seeds from the jalapeños in the salsa unless I know those I'm serving like extra heat. Add the seeds if you want to make it hot.
I hope you love this Lake Whitefish recipe as much as I do!
More citrus and seafood recipes:
- Rockfish Recipe (Baked with Lemon)
- Saffron-Orange Whitefish
- Tomatillo Shrimp Ceviche
- Citrus Marinated Grilled Fish
Lake Whitefish Recipe with Citrus Avocado Salsa
For the salsa
- ¾ cup Ruby grapefruit, diced (click here for how to cut citrus) - about 1½ large grapefruits
- ½ cup Naval orange, diced (click here for how to cut citrus) - about 1½ large oranges
- 1¼ cup avocado, diced (click here for how to cut an avocado) - about 2 small-medium avocados
- 1½ tablespoons jalapeño pepper, washed and dried, seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoons fresh mint, washed and dried, finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoon fresh basil, washed and dried, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- salt, freshly ground black pepper and granulated sugar to taste
For the fish
- grapeseed oil for the pan
- 6 approximately (7-ounce) Lake Whitefish fillets, skin on
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa
- Make the salsa. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the salt, pepper and sugar. (If there's a lot of liquid in it, strain it a bit and save the juices for another use like salad dressing.) Mix gently and then season to taste with salt, pepper and granulated sugar. (Here's How to Season to Taste.) Set aside.
For the fish
- Sauté the fish. Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan (cast iron is ideal) with grapeseed oil and place it over high heat. While the pan is heating, place the fish on a clean dry surface and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Once the pan is hot, add the fish, skin side down. (You should hear a sizzling sound when the fish hits the pan -- if you don't hear the sizzle, wait! If the pan isn't hot enough, the skin won't get brown and crisp!) Flip the fish over after about 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook just until the fish is almost cooked through, about 2 more minutes. It should still be slightly translucent in the center. (I do this in two batches in a 14 inch skillet -- you don't want to crowd the pan!)
- Serve. Serve skin side up and top each fillet with some of the salsa.
Can I invite myself over for the lunch? This looks droolworthy, Valentina. The fish is perfectly golden brown and the salsa is so fresh, and juicy. I NEED to make this ASAP!
Yes you can! 😀 Thanks for the compliment, Angie! ~Valentina
Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!
I spend the summers near the northern part of Lake Michigan, where fresh-caught whitefish is on the menu of many of the best restaurants. I love it! And it's easy for me to imagine how delicious it'd be with this really interesting salsa!
Thanks, Jeff. It's one of my favorite types of fish. So great to see it on restaurant menus. 🙂 ~Valentina
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
The fish looks perfectly cooked and that salsa looks AMAZING! I could pretty much devour the whole lot of the salsa on its own, but bet it's even better with that delicious fish! YUM!
Thank you, Dawn. The salsa is great with chips, too. 🙂 ~Valentina
What a mouthwatering dish! I love crispy fish skin and that citrus avocado salsa looks good enough to just eat with a spoon!
Thank you, Marissa. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
I've got plenty of fishermen/women in my household! This recipe is just what I need to mix things up a bit. I love that salsa!
Thanks so much, Kathy. Nice to have a folks who fish around you. 🙂 ~Valentina
Thank you for useful tips ! I will definitely skip sugar in salsa !
Enjoy, Davorka, and thank you! 🙂 ~Valentina
John / Kitchen Riffs
I love to cook fish this way! About half the time -- after I sear the fish -- I'll just stick the whole frying pan in a hot oven to finish the cooking process (rather than covering it and finishing on the stovetop). That salsa recipe looks excellent, BTW. 🙂
Thank so much, John. I've finished it in the oven also - I like both ways. Hope you enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
This is fabulous. My girlfriend is staying tonight and I’m making something with salmon topped with a citrus salsa or sorts, but with olives. I absolutely love the avocado and the zinginess of yours! Can’t wait to make it!
Mimi, I LOVE olives with citrus. I bet your friend was thrilled with your dish. Thanks for visiting. 🙂 ~Valentina
Looks enticing, Valentina! And such a super easy way to prepare fish, not to mention how nutritious this is with the salsa, too! YUM!
Thank you, Christina! Love when it's as healthy as it is tasty. 🙂 ~Valentina
David Scott Allen
When I first saw this on Facebook (or was it Instagram?), I thought it was a pork chop! But I love that it was Lake Whitefish! Definitely not something I can easily source in Tucson, but I think making this with sole would be amazing. The salsa sounds absolutely amazing.
Thank you, David! The salsa is great with any mild white fish, and I love sole. 🙂 ~Valentina
Riesa in Montana
This salsa is truly fabulous on any kind of whitefish. It tastes like summer. It blew everyone's mind in the winter in Montana. If you have a bunch of people to feed it also works as the main event of fish tacos. Thanks for the fabulous recipe!
Thank you so much for writing in, and for trying my recipes. I'm so happy you enjoyed the salsa. I love it with tacos, too and sometimes just a big bowl of tortilla chips. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina