Orange Trout with Garlic, Ginger, and Sesame

When I think of orange, I usually think of desserts–a long curl of zest steeped in milk for rice pudding, a dash on top of bitter chocolate mousse or whipped into poundcake batter. By sweetening the orange, you highlight its floral, honeyed nuance, but what happens if you add a dash of salt instead? The effect is explosive. Salt volatilizes aromatic components, and the orange aroma becomes even more saturated. Moreover, its zesty flavor marries so well with savory notes that it’s fun to explore different combinations.


One of my favorite piquant combinations with orange is a Korean inspired dry rub for fish. Garlic, scallions, ginger, sesame and chili pepper are used with dazzling effect in Korean cooking, giving it a distinctive flavor–earthy and aromatic, nutty and spicy. I haven’t encountered orange in Korean dishes, but its sweet perfume is a harmonious touch. It brings out the citrusy nuances of ginger and softens the toasty richness of sesame. Because of their acidity, oranges are also excellent with fish, and voilà, here is my creation.

The choice of fish is up to you. You can use whole fish as I do in the recipe below or fillets. You can select trout or salmon. If you like fish like sardines and mackerel, garlic and orange will tone down the strong flavors. Another reason I love this combination is purely visual–the orange, white, red and green confetti looks festive.


It’s a straightforward dish to put together: chop the aromatic ingredients, stuff the fish, set it aside for the flavors to meld and bake it. You can also use a food processor to chop the ingredients, which makes the prep even easier. Alternatively, fish can be stuffed and marinated the night before.


Orange Trout with Garlic, Ginger, and Sesame

You can also use fish fillets instead of whole trout (be sure to adjust the baking time). I like to serve this aromatic trout with rice, a side dish of sauteed or roasted vegetables and green salad. If you have any leftovers, try it cold stuffed into a pita pocket, along with crunchy romaine lettuce, a  few onion rings, and tomato slices.

Serves 4

4 whole trout, boned and butterflied
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil or mild vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
1″ piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
1 to 2 hot red chilies, minced (optional)
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 whole orange

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F/220 C. Oil a baking dish large enough to hold all the fish. Open the trout and season the inside liberally with salt and pepper.

2. Grate the orange zest. Mix it into the minced garlic, scallions, ginger, chilies, and sesame seeds, along with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stuff some of the fragrant mixture inside the fish. Then cut slashes into the fish (both sides) at 1″ intervals and stuff the garlic-orange mixture into the slits. Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours (or prepare everything the night before).

3. Cut the orange into rounds and layer on a baking sheet. Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the orange slices–this will prevent the fish from sticking and will infuse it further with orange scent.  Season the fish with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra olive oil and a little bit of orange juice. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until the fish pulls apart easily when poked with a fork. Enjoy!


Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • solanace: I love using citrus in my kitchen, and this fish looks delicious. March 21, 2013 at 7:16am Reply

    • Victoria: I do too! Citrus is one of my favorite ingredient to use in cooking, whether sweet or savory. The combination of orange and ginger is delicious in desserts as well. March 21, 2013 at 11:24am Reply

  • behemot: This recipe is wonderful! I am going to try it at home next week.
    I always liked to pair fish with citruses. My favorite combo is orange and lemon reduction ( it is quite thick and has a bright color) I serve on white fish, like halibut. It contains no garlic though.
    Thank you for another great recipe. I feel it will be one of my favorite ones. March 21, 2013 at 7:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that sounds great! Mixing orange and lemon makes for such a rich, complex flavor. I once tried a recipe for lemon curd, which includes orange and lime juice, besides the usual lemon. It’s like a perfume–with top, middle and base notes. March 21, 2013 at 11:26am Reply

      • behemot: Exactly! These flavors compliment each other , and it is so fragrant! March 21, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

        • Victoria: Just grating citrus zest or squeezing lemons is a fragrant treat enough! 🙂 March 21, 2013 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Annikky: This looks really good, thank you! Must try. I have used orange-ginger-garlic-honey, which is also a good combination. But my favourite orange-related mix for fish is orange rind, sea salt and rosemary, especially for whole fish (you can stuff the fish and ideally grill it). This one works well for both white and red varieties. March 21, 2013 at 8:07am Reply

    • Victoria: I love using honey in cooking too, so I will try that marinade. I already imagine how good it would taste on salmon.

      By the way, I was thinking of you recently, because I found an Estonian baking book by Ida Savi. It was published in 1983 and translated in Russian, and I’ve tried several recipes already. Her blueberry pie and barley flatbreads turned out really well, as did her rye crisps. Most Soviet era cookbooks are filled with nearly identical recipes, but hers are quite distinctive. March 21, 2013 at 11:31am Reply

      • Annikky: The breadth and depth of your interests and knowledge continues to amaze me. I still hadn’t gotten over the fact that you are familiar with sepik and now you come at me with Ida Savi… She is a real Estonian classic and her books are still widely loved and used. It warms my heart that you have tried her recipes!

        Regarding the marinade – sometimes when I’m hungry, alone and in a hurry, I add some soy or teryaki sauce and pan-fry the salmon. It will be sticky and maybe a little blackened, but very satisfying and still relatively healthy, paired with a salad or brown rice/whole wheat noodles. March 22, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

        • Victoria: My husband calls it obsessive. 🙂 I really enjoy exploring traditional cooking, because just like scents, those tastes reflect a specific time and place. Flipping through Ida Savi’s book made me want to bake everything in it. For instance, she has a delicious sounding recipe for oatmeal tuiles (called “овсяная стружка” in the Russian edition) scented with lemon zest and bitter almond.

          Thank you for reminding me about the versatility of soy glazed salmon. I haven’t cooked it for a while, and I must make it soon. March 22, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

  • rosarita: That looks delicious! I am expanding my fish knowledge and have been tempted by mackerel as a different cold water choice but I’m not sure how to season it – my American pallette is used to mild fillets – so this recipe would be a great start. Thanks! March 21, 2013 at 8:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I love mackerel! Its flavor can be an acquired taste, but it is easy to match it with strong tastes. Another marinade I like on mackerel is cumin and lemon juice. You can also add turmeric and garlic. Cumin is a beloved spice for fish in the Middle East, and for strongly flavored dish, it’s ideal. March 21, 2013 at 11:38am Reply

  • The Blue Squid: Tastiness!  When an unsuspecting fish next paddles past my enigmatic undersea lair, I shall haul it in and give this recipe a whirl.  I often forget orange in my savoury cooking.  It’s time to reinstate it, I think.  Thanks for the lovely and unusual recipe. March 21, 2013 at 8:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Then I won’t suggest to you to try it on calamari! 🙂 (although it does taste really good!) March 21, 2013 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Jillie: How absolutely delicious – and it will tempt me to eat more fish, too, which is good.

    I love putting strips of orange peel in with beef and red pepper casserole, in the French way, as it makes the dish much more interesting. Also I cheer up chicken breasts by marinading in yoghurt, chilli, garlic, grated orange peel and orange zest – this keeps them tender.

    But your fish dish looks so tasty and really healthy, so it will be on our menu soon.

    And, as always, your photos are incredible and would look perfect in the best cookery books. March 21, 2013 at 9:06am Reply

    • Barbara: Bois de Jasmin needs to have its own cookbook including the reader recipes. I learn a lot about interesting combinations from comments like yours. March 21, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

      • Jillie: Yes, we should ask Victoria to bring out her own book! March 21, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

        • solanace: Seconding Victoria’s book. And since she takes such beutiful pictures, she won’t need a photographer nor a food stylist! March 21, 2013 at 1:34pm Reply

          • Rachel: 3rd this! I love to read Victoria’s writing on any topic. Nice photos are the icing on the cake. March 21, 2013 at 1:45pm Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you for your nice words. I will do my best. 🙂 March 21, 2013 at 4:58pm Reply

      • Victoria: 🙂 There are many creative cooks here! March 21, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love fish, but unfortunately, I don’t have a good fish store nearby. The plastic wrapped fish at the supermarket doesn’t tempt me much, so whenever I make a visit to the fish monger, we end up eating fish for two days in a row. That’s why these kind of dishes requiring a marinade are good. Another favorite is orange zest, miso, honey and chili powder. This marinade actually cures the fish a bit too.

      I love your orange flavored ideas! I think I could eat chicken prepared this way every day, so once the Lent is over, I will be sure to try it.

      Thank you for your nice compliment! I’m learning. 🙂 March 21, 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

      • Daisy: That sounds like an amazing marinade! I always love honey and chili together. The addition of the miso and orange must push it into the stratosphere. March 25, 2013 at 11:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: It works really well! I know that yuzu can be added to the miso marinade, but the only time I’ve encountered yuzu here, it was priced at 15 euros a piece. That’s too much, especially since I remember buying a whole box of yuzu in California for about $20. So, instead I experimented with orange, lemon, lime and even tangerine, and all of them work really well. March 26, 2013 at 8:39am Reply

  • Sandy Cain: I’m definitely going to try this – it sounds wonderful. (But when I peeked at my email, I thought at first it was a fragrance review – hmm, interesting notes) !! March 21, 2013 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Someone else suggested that it could be a perfume by Etat Libre d’Orange! 🙂 March 21, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

      • Austenfan: A flanker to Fils de Dieu! March 21, 2013 at 6:25pm Reply

    • Daisy: So funny 🙂 I was about to say that there was a shortage of trout fragrances out there 😉 March 25, 2013 at 11:43pm Reply

  • Jillie: Oh, I forgot to say that I used to buy a ready prepared lavender and orange marinade which was amazing. Sadly, the little delicatessen that made it had to stop producing this, but the owners keep hoping to bring it back. By chance, I struck up conversation with the very person who might be doing this for them, and she is hoping it will be soon.

    I’ve tried replicating it (using olive oil, lavender, orange juice, honey, thyme, garlic, chilli etc), but have never quite got it right.

    The combination of the lavender and orange is just inspired and worked with fish, chicken, pork and vegetables.

    Separately, orange and lavender cupcakes are rather nice ….. March 21, 2013 at 9:13am Reply

    • Barbara: YUM!! I love lavender shortbread, but cupcakes with orange and lavender sound even better. March 21, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

    • Annikky: Mmmm… I’ve got the lavender chef’s essence by Aftelier, will experiment. March 21, 2013 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: In one of Paula Wolfert’s books, there is a recipe for pork marinated in rose wine with onions, thyme, lavender (and something else, I’m sure). I’m always a bit suspicious of lavender in food, but it was a great combo. Your orange-lavender marinade sounds fantastic too. I’m tempted to experiment with it. March 21, 2013 at 12:41pm Reply

      • Jillie: Just to say that the trick with lavender in food is to use it sparingly – just a hint, or too much overwhelms everything and it’s like eating bath salts! March 21, 2013 at 2:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: “Eating bath salts” made me laugh out loud. Yes, that’s exactly how some lavender pastries taste to me when a dose of lavender is too generous. March 21, 2013 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Barbara: My love of fish, and cooking it – has grown wildly while living in the U.S. At home we didn’t prepare it much. So I always look for new ideas and tips. I usually just bake it with olive oil and lemon. Your recipe and comments here are inspiring. Thanks, V and all!
    The photos are gorgeous, as always! March 21, 2013 at 9:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Barbara! When I was growing up, we loved fish (and it was rare enough that it seemed exotic), but we prepared it in a very simple way. Usually, it was fried and occasionally my mom made stuffed fish with carrots and onions. I think that if you have a piece of excellent fish, it needs very little adornment, but it’s still fun to play and experiment. March 21, 2013 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Rachel: This could be a perfume! Minus the garlic, of course. 🙂 March 21, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

    • Victoria: And minus the fish! Although the same Etat Libre d’Orange I mentioned early did put a fishy-iodine note in their Secretions Magnifiques. March 21, 2013 at 12:44pm Reply

      • Rachel: Maybe no fishy note is a good idea. SM was the worst perfume I’ve tried. March 21, 2013 at 1:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: Some people really find SM, but I admit that there is something intriguing about it. I don’t get anything unpleasant about it, but then again, I’m not that tempted to wear it. March 21, 2013 at 5:02pm Reply

  • Brie B: I’ll have to try next time in lieu of my “signature” fish dish, which is usually tilapia in a lemon, butter and white wine sauce with capers. I love the idea of a different citrus flavor with fish; I bet it’s wonderful! March 21, 2013 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m jotting down your idea in my notebook, because I’ve discovered recently that I love capers in just about everything. Your combination sounds elegant, and I already know that it’s going to be delicious.

      Hope that you will enjoy my piquant variation. March 21, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

      • Brie B: I’m sure I will enjoy it! By the way, when I make the tilapia, I lightly flour it and fry it separately before making the sauce. I’m sure it would still be great even if I didn’t, but frying adds a bit of textural diversity to the dish! March 21, 2013 at 5:54pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m sure it makes a difference, and it adds another layer of flavor from the nutty, toasted flour. Since I can’t find tilapia here (or perhaps, it’s sold under some other name in the Belgian markets), I will try your sauce with sole.

          Meanwhile, for tonight’s dinner I tossed capers into the olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette and drizzled it over Belgian endives. The combination of tart, salty and bitter-sweet was very pleasant. March 21, 2013 at 5:59pm Reply

          • Brie B.: That sounds wonderful! I also do my sauce with sole, it works just as well 🙂 March 29, 2013 at 3:24pm Reply

            • Victoria: Your comment reminded me that I want to thank you–I made your sauce with sole, and it was delicious. Since it’s the Lent, I’ve used olive oil, but the result was still mouthwatering. My husband ended up finishing the rest of the sauce on bread. I’ve always wanted to try this classical combination, but you’ve finally inspired me. 🙂 March 29, 2013 at 3:28pm Reply

  • charlotte: this looks delicious and healthy! i cook trout with bacon and green onions; but id like to try your recipe. March 21, 2013 at 3:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a classic! I bet it tastes great, and according to my husband, bacon makes everything taste even better. 🙂 March 21, 2013 at 5:03pm Reply

  • Ann: I just made tasty biscotti with the zest of 1 orange along with toasted almonds and chopped dark chocolate (yum). I was surprised at how pronounced the orange zest was; it was not overpowered by the chocolate at all.

    I’ll have to try the Orange Trout- my mouth is watering! March 21, 2013 at 7:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your biscotti sound very fragrant! I love the combination of almond, chocolate, and orange, and like you, I always find that orange is not a shy flavor at all. March 22, 2013 at 4:50am Reply

  • Lauren B: I’m a fan of anything ginger– can’t wait to try this recipe! March 22, 2013 at 9:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you enjoy it! I also love ginger, both in food and in perfume. March 22, 2013 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Steph: YUM! Definitely going to try this out. Thanks! March 22, 2013 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! 🙂 March 23, 2013 at 6:27am Reply

  • Shelly: Thanks! I never thought about combining orange with fish like that. March 24, 2013 at 12:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I first tried it when I wanted to make marinated fish with lemon zest and bay leaves but found myself out of lemons. I used an orange instead, and I loved the combination. It’s tart, zesty, vibrant, and it works really well with fish. March 24, 2013 at 8:47am Reply

  • Karen: I fall for the combination of lemon, salt and ginger. I make a favorite vinaigrette for fish and taste as I go along, starting with equal amounts grated fresh ginger, salt and sugar (about 1/2 teaspoon, sometimes using agave nectar or honey) then start whisking in lemon juice and olive oil and adjusting as needed. The salt and sugar should dance together, one enhancing the other, until the flavors sing. It’s a great example of the harmony of sour, hot, salty and sweet, essentials of our flavor palate. Your posts always inspire the senses, thank you! March 24, 2013 at 3:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Karen! This sounds so good I want to make it immediately. Since it is already quite late here, I will just have to wait for tomorrow. March 24, 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Karen, I made your ginger dressing, and it was addictive and very good. We had it on steamed asparagus and carrots. Thank you very much for sharing your idea! March 26, 2013 at 8:43am Reply

      • Karen: Victoria, I’m glad to know you made the dressing. Your pairing with simple steamed vegetables sounds delicious. I’m very happy that asparagus is arriving in our produce markets! April 3, 2013 at 9:20pm Reply

  • Daisy: What a wonderful recipe and combination. Thanks, Victoria! I love a salty note in my orange . . . which probably also explains my love for Eau des Merveilles 🙂

    On another note, many years ago, I was reading a recipe from Nigella that was an orange-spiked chicken soup. Perfect if you have a cold! March 25, 2013 at 11:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: Funny, I just received a replacement copy of Nigella’s How to Eat, and I’m enjoying it very much. I miss her NYTimes column, which never failed to make me want to cook everything she wrote about. March 26, 2013 at 8:41am Reply

  • Mer: We love trout, I made this a couple of days ago. I didn’t have scallion so I used a little onion. It was great, thanks! March 28, 2013 at 2:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad that you liked it! I made it for our tonight’s supper again, and I used tangerine instead of orange this time. March 28, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

  • Nicholas: Thanks, the recipe looks and sounds lovely. Korean flavours can be absolutely wonderful. I recently discovered lemon, garlic and butter on snapper and keep going back to it. On a bit of a tangent, how do you get garlic off your hands? I cant seem to stop myself throwing in more and more in my food, love the stuff but unfortunately so do my fingers. March 28, 2013 at 4:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you soak your fingers in lemon juice or vinegar, the smell will be gone. I also use a small mortar and pestle to crush garlic–it’s super fast, the cleanup is easy, and you don’t get the garlic juice on your skin.

      The combination of garlic and butter alone is addictive, and with a touch of lemon–magical. 🙂 March 28, 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

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