How to Cook Better Fish: An Orange Juice Sauce Recipe

February 21, 2011

sauce for fish recipe

When she was eight, my sister wanted to marry a man named Jack and — since that name was already taken — I settled for the guy on the Folger’s commercial. (As it turns out 15 years later, she and her husband, Matt, named their son Jack. And when I discovered the guy in the commercial never really woke his parents with the smell of fresh coffee, I quickly picked someone else.) Bummer. You just can’t plan life.

But you can plan dinner. In many ways, that’s what’s nice about it. You can plan a dish that’s better (and cheaper) than anything you’d get in a restaurant. People, meet orange juice sauce: reduced in the pan until thick and syrupy and the kitchen smells fresh like an orange tree … or just … a really, really convincing plug-in. Really, better fish is just a check list away.

seared halibut

Orange juice, soy sauce, butter. Three ingredients. If you have twenty minutes and a pot, you can simmer, reduce, thicken and complete a sauce for fish that’s edged in sweetness and umami. Plus, the recipe comes from Thomas Keller. So, if it’s good enough to eat at the French Laundry, it’s good enough for me and my husband –– who never brews me coffee in the morning — but always puts the seat down. And frequently offers to do the grocery shopping.

[print_this]

Orange Juice Sauce Recipe for Fish

Ingredients

1 cup orange juice
2 tbs soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons butter

Procedure

Reduce the orange juice in a small pot for 15-20 minutes or until the juice is reduced by half. Add the soy sauce and swirl in the butter. Serve warm.[/print_this]

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

5chw4r7z February 21, 2011 at 7:00 am

I guess this is why I’ll never cook awesome stuff like you, all your recipes call for hours of simmering, roasting or other stuff.
I whip out stir fry in five minutes and call soup.

*sigh*

I’ll keep coming here and dreaming.

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Courtney February 21, 2011 at 7:42 am

That’s pretty funny… I posted this with the intention of sharing something easy. 3 ingredients! 15 or 20 minutes in the pot! You can do it.

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Nathan February 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

Love this reduction. I’ve always done it in the pan after searing, with all the butter and fish bits. The combination also makes a great glaze for grilled chicken wings, with some sake added!

Nice color on that fish (mahi mahi?)

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Courtney February 23, 2011 at 4:29 am

Oooh, nice touch with the sake. I’ll have to try.

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Jenny Kessler via Facebook February 21, 2011 at 9:21 am

“you can’t plan life, but you can plan dinner. And that’s even better in some ways.”

my new motto :)

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Epiventures via Facebook February 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

ain’t it the truth, Jenny? also wish i had a recipe for what pants to wear in the morning.

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Jill February 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

did you read my mind? i’ve been thinking most mornings how nice it’d be if eric left me some freshly brewed coffee (never happens though, sigh). BUT, like dustin, he does go to the grocery store for me and puts the seat down. those are biggies.

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Cincinnati Bites February 22, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Holy mackerel, that’s a great looking piece of fish.

On what kind of beany bed is it resting? Looks lovely.

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Courtney February 23, 2011 at 4:31 am

I used garbanzo beans with tomatoes, diced turnips and leeks. I think any bean would work though.

The topping is very thin slices of leeks, carrots and radishes. When you soak them in ice water for 10 minutes, they’re easy to curl up in a little ball.

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Marin February 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm

As I am your sister, the mother of the redheaded jack, and someone who was lucky enough to eat the fish pictured above, I can only say that this recipe is to die for. I will also say that people would have licked their plates if it would have been appropriate and that the fish was cooked to perfection. Thanks for the amazing dinner and for the recipe so that the next time I burn my fish I will at least have the sauce to make me happy! marin

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B March 6, 2011 at 5:29 am

I get how to make the sauce. Could you provide a simple recipe as to how you would advise cooking the fish over which you pour the sauce? Thank you. Also, still wondering about the “1/5 tbs” instruction in the earlier chicken recipe. Is that 1/5 of a tablespoon of honey? If so, that’s hard to measure–doesn’t seem right.

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Courtney March 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

Okay, B, searing fish is actually easy. But it does take practice. First, take the fish out of the fridge 20 minutes before you’re ready to cook — so that it comes to room temp. Then, take a paper towel and soak out all the moisture. Get out as much as you can so that it sears well in the pan.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then dust in flower. Shake off all the excess flour — you only want a thin layer.

Then, get a pan really hot. I like cast iron pans. Lay the fish in the pan with your fingers and press the fish down firmly so that it makes nice contact with the pan. Cook maybe 4 minutes (depending on the thickness). Don’t move the fish — you want a nice brown crust. Then, flip it. It only needs a couple minutes more. When you take the fish off the heat, it’ll keep cooking. The key is not to over do it.

You can always put the fish back on the heat, but there’s nothing you can do if you overcook it.

Hope that helps!

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Carlo March 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Could you tell me how to prepare the veggies that are under and on top? This dish looks fantastic!!! I would love to tyr to make this this week. Thanks.

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felicia March 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I loooooved the orange sauce for the fish, it was a big hit in my house……thanks

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Courtney March 17, 2011 at 8:15 am

So happy! Thanks for reporting back, Felicia.

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Sara July 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Do you have the complete recipe for this?
This looks really amazing, nice job!!!!

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Eileen October 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

Ahaha! I grew up insisting that I KNEW I would marry a man named Jack too!

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wheatbellygirls January 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Thanks for providing a quick simple Orange Juice reduction that doesn’t require adding sugar!

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Dorthay Welch March 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Omg! We loved the fish sauce it was very good. I didn’t have orange juice so I used fresh oranges. Thank you for the recipe. I love quick and simple!

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