Food & wine

A citrus-cured fish starter for spring

Citrus-cured fish

Fish on Friday is with us all year round, and angling for Easter recipes nets relatively few hard and fast traditions beyond Scandinavian herrings and smörgåsbord, Dutch smoked fish, Spanish tapas, Portuguese salt cod dishes, and South African pickled fish with spices. This dish riffs on the pickling idea to refreshing effect by ‘cooking’ raw fish in citrus juice for a light, but vibrant starter – a tastebud-titillating transformation of texture that retains freshness and flavour.


Serves six as a starter

  • 500g firm, boned and skinned fillet of white fish like sea bass, haddock, halibut, gurnard, pollock or hake
  • Juice and zest of a lime
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Juice of an orange
  • 1 red pepper, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 red onion, very thinly sliced into half moons
  • 10 French or breakfast radishes, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 avocadoes, peeled, stoned and diced
  • 1 small bunch of coriander leaves, roughly chopped, or snipped chives (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper

This can be enjoyed with bread, but a lovely accompaniment is plain tortilla chips for a salty crunch. Alternatively, serve as tacos in small flour tortillas with shredded lettuce for crunch.


  1. Mix the citrus juices together well and set aside a tablespoon of it.
  2. Thinly slice the fish about half a centimetre thick, across the grain and at an angle (as you might carve smoked salmon), or dice it into 1cm cubes if preferred.
  3. Mix the fish and citrus juices in a non-ceramic bowl, making sure that the fish is completely covered. Put it into the fridge and leave to marinate for 2 to 3 hours. You’ll see the fish change from its raw pearly colour to an opaque white
  4. Toss the sliced peppers and onion in the retained juice in a non-metallic bowl with a tablespoon of the olive oil and leave to marinate.
  5. When the fish is ‘cooked’, divide it between six plates with the juices, scattering each portion with the peppers, onions slices, radishes, and diced avocado. Season with a little salt and black pepper.
  6. Finish with a light dusting of cayenne, the chopped coriander if using, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Wine recommendations

Think brisk acidity and cool, crystalline fruit that won’t overpower the fish. Citrus-cured fish or ceviche is a Latin-American staple, and the bright flavours of Chilean sauvignon blanc would make a fine start. Arguably Italy’s best fish wine, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi with its grapefruit-peel notes, echoes the citrus dressing admirably. A gently oaked chardonnay, such as The Society’s Exhibition Limarí Chardonnay picks up on the creamy avocado in the dish, while the fresh Pacific zest of its fruit mirrors that of the citrus dressing. Alvarinho or albariño with its Atlantic freshness and obvious gastronomic credentials, would be an excellent choice and the lemon and lime scents of riesling, particularly one from the southern hemisphere, are effectively the dressing ingredients in delicious vinous form!

Steve Farrow

The Society's Wine Information Editor

Steve Farrow

Having spent several years in The Showroom, Steve likes nothing more than chatting with members about food and wine and is our in-house Wine Without Fuss food and wine man.

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