Barbecued Sea Trout with Grapefruit-Ginger-Shallot Sauce

Barbecued Sea Trout with Grapefruit-Ginger-Shallot Sauce

Recipe Excerpted from Elements of Taste
by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky
Used with permission from
© 2001 by Peter Kaminsky and Gray Kunz

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GRAPEFRUIT IS AN INTERESTING ingredient because it is one of the few that combines both bitter and sweet (milk chocolate is another). Bitter closes down the palate, which helps to confine the taste of highly flavored foods so that you can begin each bite with a clean slate, so to speak. Every thing else in this recipe pushes and pulls flavor. There is hardly a taste that this combination doesn't push forward or pull up. You would think then, that this logically leads to it being used primarily to sauce strong-tasting main ingredients. While this one use (with, for example, a bitter green such as watercress), it is also true that it works beautifully to pull out the flavor in more subtly flavored and delicate ingredients such as fresh white-fleshed fish, baby shrimp, or bay scallops. Sea trout, also known as weakfish or speckled trout, has a great affinity for tangy tastes.


1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon finely diced shallots
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt
Cayenne pepper
Pinch paprika
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 grapefruit, peeled, pith removed, segmented, then cut into wedges
2 tablespoons julienned grapefruit zest

Combine the grapefruit juice, shallots, ginger, sugar, salt, cayenne, and paprika and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Allow the mixture to reduce by half, then adjust the seasoning with salt, lemon, sugar, and cayenne (the sauce can be made up to an hour in advance up to this point).

Just before serving, add the grapefruit sections to the warm sauce. (Reserve the zest for garnish.)

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral vegetable oil
4 6-ounce sea trout filets, skin on (you can also use any firm white fleshed fish)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper

Brush the fish lightly with oil, season with salt and pepper then grill (over hot coals if possible), 2-3 minutes per side.

Spoon the sauce onto four warm plates. Place a filet in the center of each plate, then garnish with grapefruit zest and serve.

First, the tang, bitterness, and sweetness of the grapefruit are pulled further by the tang of the lemon. Then comes the floral herbal of the ginger joined by the bulbiness of the shallot. The sugar pushes the sweet fruit, while the lemon and grapefruit tang pulls out this flavor. The texture of the sea trout punctuates tastes and its ocean flavor diffuses the attack of the sauce. In this mix of powerful and concentrated flavors, the fish is the final note, with trailing echoes of bitter, sweet, and, finally, cayenne heat.

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