Sea Bass with Seasonal Citrus Salsa

Sea Bass with Citrus Salsa
Sea Bass with Citrus Salsa

We all know that citrus and fish go hand in hand, but this recipe for Sea Bass with Seasonal Citrus Salsa is perfect for a meal that takes advantage of the bounty of citrus in the winter.

What’s in the Citrus Salsa?

Although the salsa has a diced jalapeño and pineapple, it really isn’t spicy or too sweet, either. As the jalapeño sits in the champagne vinegar and lime juice, it becomes fairly mild losing most of its heat while maintaining its flavor.

The salsa has a great balance of flavors that work well with fish. After you make the salsa, just leave it out on the counter so it is served at room temperature, giving it the best flavor.

Whatever type of oranges you choose to use is perfectly fine, we just happen to love the flavor and color of Cara Cara and Blood Oranges. The subtle touch of onion, jalapeño, and the chili powders round off the sweetness of the fruits perfectly.

The Cooking Method

Pan roasting is the way to go if you have a nice thick piece of fish like this. So, we chose to first sear the fish on the stovetop, then finish the fish by roasting it in the oven. Firm, yet flaky fish, like sea bass, cod, halibut, and many other whitefish like these (and also salmon), hold up particularly well to pan roasting. You get some caramelization (added flavor and texture) from the time on the stovetop, but you roast the fish to gently preserve its beautiful texture and flavor.

What to serve with the Sea Bass with Citrus Salsa?

For this dish, we chose a nice rice and quinoa side dish, which we included in the recipe below. Rice and quinoa cook together perfectly and really add a nice twist to a common rice dish. The texture of quinoa really works with rice, not to mention how nice it looks when it is multicolored.

Sea Bass with Citrus Salsa
The Citrus Salsa complements the moist buttery sea bass in this dish!

The rice blend is flavored with paprika. Any type of good paprika will work in this dish, it just depends on what you like. We normally use the “hot” variety in this application, even though the spiciness is barely existent. It is more about the color, fragrance, and flavor from the paprika. Obviously sweet and, especially smoked, paprika will bring a completely different flavor profile to the rice.

Can I make this with a different fish?

We chose sea bass for this recipe because it is just so delicious and buttery! You should find be able to find fresh sea bass in most grocery stores or fish markets. The flesh of the sea bass is moist and buttery, which stands up perfectly to the acidity of the salsa. But if it is a challenge to find, or if it is expensive in your area, you have many other options.

You could pair the Citrus Salsa with any fish from white flaky fish like cod or halibut to salmon or swordfish. Or you could venture into shellfish, shrimp or scallops. This salsa would be great on these and other fish, or even chicken tacos, if you wanted something different. 

The type of fish isn’t as important as the freshness – an old nasty sea bass will not be better than any similar fresh fish just because it is a sea bass! So buy your fish from a source you know and trust. If buying fresh fish from the grocery store, ask when they got the fish in, and if it’s within 3 days, the fish should be in pretty good condition. And don’t feel bad about asking to smell the fish (well, in normal times I’d always do this…so maybe not until the worldly condition changes… cough *covid* cough) as that is the best indicator of fresh fish. If it smells like the ocean or nothing at all, it’s going to be a winner. If it smells “fishy,” take a pass on that old worn out fish and look for something else.

Frozen fillets are another option if you can’t get your hands on fresh fish. Just make sure you defrost the fish completely in the fridge before using it for this dish. And make sure you pat it dry before cooking – especially with formerly frozen fish, but all fish as well.


We hope you enjoy this recipe for Sea Bass with Seasonal Citrus Salsa! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Sea Bass with Citrus Salsa
Sea Bass with Citrus Salsa
Recipe developed in collaboration with Chef Vanessa Wilson-Watson

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Sea Bass with Seasonal Citrus Salsa

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Mark, Angela and Vanessa Wilson-Watson Course: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


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  • For the salsa
  • 2 2 assorted oranges (we used 1 cara-cara and 1 blood orange) peeled and segmented.

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 (30g) of raw red onion minced

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 (64g) fresh pineapple (cut in small dice – 1/4 inch squares)

  • 1 medium 1 jalapeño seeded and finely diced

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 (about 5g) fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 1/2 lime, juiced

  • 1 tbsp 1 (15 ml) olive oil

  • 1 tbsp 1 (15 ml) champagne or white wine vinegar

  • Small handful of cilantro leaves, chopped

  • Pinch chili powder

  • Pinch smoked paprika

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • For the Fish
  • 2 2 sea bass fillets (8 oz each), skin removed

  • 2 tbsp 2 (30 ml) olive oil, divided

  • 2 tsp 2 kosher salt

  • 1 tsp 1 black pepper

  • For the Pepper Rice
  • 3/4 cup 3/4 (150 g) basmati rice*

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 (50g) bicolored quinoa

  • 1 tsp 1 paprika

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 1 tsp 1 unsalted butter

  • 12 oz 12 (350 ml) water


  • First make the salsa. In a serving bowl combine everything and taste to adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Set aside at room temp until ready to use.
  • For the fish, preheat the oven to 400°F (around 205° C). Drizzle the fish with 1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat an oven safe skillet over medium-high to high heat. Once your pan is hot add the other 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of olive oil to the pan until the pan just starts to smoke. Add the fish and cook for about 3 minutes on one side, looking for a brown crust, then flip it for about 15 seconds. Remove the pan from the stove and immediately place it in your preheated oven. Roast for 20 minutes for a 2 inch thick (8oz) piece of fish. Top with the salsa and serve with the rice.
  • While the fish roasts, start the rice. For the rice, bring everything except the rice to a boil over high heat, add the rice and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover for about 18 minutes or until water has absorbed and the rice is tender. Serve with fish.


  • *If you choose to use a different type of rice, refer to cooking directions on the package, as all rice varieties don’t cook for the same amount of time or with the same liquid-to-rice ratios.

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