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 is a Lake Whitefish recipe and it's 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.
When choosing citrus, look for fruit that's heavy for its size, firm to slightly soft with a deep color.
- Lakefish fillets - Always buy the freshest fish possible. If you have a specialty fish market near you, that's probably your best bet. And don't hesitate to ask the fish monger to skin and portion your fish for you. They will almost always be happy to do this.
- grapefruit - I like Ruby grapefruits. They’re a bit sweet and are a gorgeous rose color.
- oranges - Naval oranges are best for the salsa recipe. They’re seedless, juicy and sweet.
- lime juice
- avocado - Ripe avocados should yield to firm gentle pressure. It will feel lightly soft but it will not feel “mushy” to the touch.
- Jalapeño peppers - A good Jaoapeño pepper should be firm, deeply colored and slightly shiny.
- fresh mint - Look for perky, bright green bunches.
- fresh basil - Again, look for perky, bright green bunches.
- salt - I cook with Kosher salt because of its larger flake size, it's less refined and usually doesn't contain additives, and it does a great job enhancing the flavor of foods without making them neutral oil - like vegetable or grapeseed.
- taste salty. (If you use table salt, use half the amount.)
- Black pepper - Preferably freshly ground.
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.
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.)
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.
More Citrus and Seafood Recipes
- Rockfish Recipe (Baked with Lemon)
- Saffron-Orange Whitefish
- Tomatillo Shrimp Ceviche
- Citrus Marinated Grilled Fish
I hope you love this Lake Whitefish recipe as much as I do!
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 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.