Grilled Fish with Citrus Herb Crust

Grilled Fish with Citrus Herb Crust Recipe - final photo

Last week my kitchen got more action than I think it’s ever gotten in its life. The previous owners weren’t big cooks and since we’ve moved in, cooking has mostly been at our outdoor kitchen by the pool. Last week’s occasion was a 5-day visit from Adam and Joanne, a couple who cooks, blogs, commutes and works together. Now, that’s a lot of ‘together’ time and they somehow make it work flawlessly. What’s their secret?

They’re madly, deeply in love with each other. It’s so crazy sweet and endearing. The way they steal glances at each other melts butter!

I can’t wait til they make babies.

Oh, but that’s the mamma side of me talking.

For the past couple of months, Adam and Joanne have been such a tremendous help, taking on tasks that I’m not good at (remembering details!) or don’t particularly enjoy personally (editing and uploading photos!). They’ve given me and my family a wonderful gift….time. We’ve been able to create a nice rhythm of working via email, text and occasionally, phone, since they live in Virginia. Those lucky ducks also get to do some of the traveling for me – they both got to visit the beautiful and bountiful Washington state winery region and in a couple of weeks, I’m sending Joanne to Italy in my place on a trip to the Parma region while I head to New York City to host and emcee the annual Dumpling Festival for the 3rd year in a row.

She’s my body double — I need to find one of those Mission Impossible masks for her, but unfortunately, she’s like a whole head taller than shorty me.

While they were here, we cooked like crazy! I also made them smoke….

…cheese….which was a sorta a big fail. The cheese ended up tasting more like wood than smoke, even though we only kept the smoke on for less than 20 seconds. We haven’t given up – Adam & Joanne took the gun home to experiment with.

But what was a major win was this Grilled Swordfish with Citrus Herb Crust — in fact, it was the week’s winning dish. After playing with the complicated kitchen toys like the Smoking Gun, Sous Vide machine, it was the simplest recipe of all that was our favorite. 10 minute prep, 10 minute cook.

It’s from a new cookbook called The New Sonoma Cookbook by Dr. Connie Gutterson, which is the companion cookbook to The New Sonoma Diet (which I have not read nor followed, so I don’t really know anything about the diet). However, the cookbook, regardless of whether or not you’re on that particular diet, is a stand-alone cookbook full of simple recipes featuring good, wholesome ingredients.

The original recipe uses salmon and different herbs, but our version featured minced fresh herbs from the garden, orange and lemon citrus zest and a rub of olive oil on a thick slab of fresh swordfish.

How to make Grilled Fish with Citrus Herb Crust

The combination of orange and lemon zest brightens the flavor of grilled fish, and the vibrant herbs just sing “summer.”

This recipe is not only simple (there’s only a handful of ingredients, and you can throw it together at the last minute), but also flexible — use whatever fresh herbs you have in the garden or refrigerator. We’ve used basil, oregano and parsley, but cilantro, dill or chive would be great, too. As for the fish, we were lucky to snag some fresh swordfish, but salmon, halibut or grouper is equally good. You can even use the same technique for grilled shrimp on skewers.

To cook the fish, here’s a tip: Grill it on medium-low heat to keep the fish moist, as high heat will tend to dry out the fish and burn the herbs, and that would make it slightly bitter.

Take some fresh herbs, any herbs and mince. We used oregano, parsley and basil. Zest a lemon and orange. Salt and pepper.

Olive oil to give it some sticking power.






Grilled Fish with Citrus Herb Crust Recipe -5328


Grilled Fish with Citrus Herb Crust

Servings: serves 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes
Grilled Fish with Citrus Herb Crust Recipe - final photo

Basil, oregano and parsley can be substituted for other herbs in the recipe, for example, cilantro and scallions or chives would be a great substitute. Recipe adapted from The New Sonoma Cookbook by Connie Gutterson.


1/2 cup minced fresh herbs (basil, oregano and parsley)
2 to 4 swordfish fillets (or your fish of choice), 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper
Zest of half a lemon
Zest of half an orange
2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat your grill — medium-low heat on one side and high heat on the other side.

To mince the herbs, you can do this by hand with a chef's knife, or place the herbs, zests and olive oil in your food processor and give it a few whirls.

Pat fish dry with paper towels, and season both sides with salt and pepper. On a large plate, mix together the chopped fresh herbs, lemon, orange zest, olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Generously coat both sides of the fish with the herb mixture and allow the fish to marinate for 10 minutes. Place the fish over the medium-low heat side of the grill, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the fish, cover and cook for 4 minutes more, or until the fish flakes easily when poked with a fork. Just before serving, squeeze a little lemon juice or orange juice on top of the fish.

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Comments 42

  1. Kim Bee

    Such a great recipe. Fresh and simple. Love all the pics included. Hope those two lovebirds figure out that smoke device. Curious about that for sure. Have a great week Jaden. And the lovebirds too! xx

    1. Booklet

      Looked really delicious, young children are harsh food critics – things that they like are “ yummy ” , while everything else is just “ yucky.

  2. Jessica

    What a wonderful post! I am so happy that Adam and Joanne hooked up with you at Food Blog Forum last year, it looks like it is working out so well for everyone! Love all those smiling faces in the pictures 🙂

  3. karen

    Just have a couple questions about the grilled fish recipe in paper and on website today.(9/8/11) Why do you heat the one side of the grill on high?….I do not see when you use it. And do you really “cover” the fish as you cook them on the grill??
    It sounds yummy and fish is not cheap so I don’t want to screw it up!
    Thanks for any help!

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Hi Karen – When I say “cover” it means to close the lid on the grill.

      One side of the grill is on high (the side that the fish is NOT on) so that it creates enough heat inside the grill to cook the fish. The fish is on the side with lower heat so that it doesn’t burn.

  4. patsy

    That fish recipe is something I think I would fight over getting the last little bit on the plate! I love the flavor combination… and thanks for the tip on how high the heat should be when grilling fish… I’m always afraid of drying it out.

  5. John

    This looks great – and really healthy! I might try the recipe with a tuna steak – can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  6. love cooking

    I am thinking to grilled stingray with this recipe. It’s look so delicious with lemon and citrus. I think I will add some coriander too. 🙂

  7. Elizabeth Skove

    This looks delicious! I would ask “love cooking” to please refrain from cooking stingray. I recently read that it is a slow-growing (to maturity, and therefore reproductive age) animal. People cut off their fins (or whatever they’re called) and eat them. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this out until after I had eaten some. It is not a sustainable food source, and I will never knowingly eat it again. Great blog Jaden!

  8. Beth Bilous

    OMG this looks delish, making it Saturday, but at the price, Michele please tell me the texture of Swordfish. Is it textured like snapper or mahi, or more like sea bass? I like the dry meaty texture of snapper, and don’t like the gel like texture of sea bass. Please advise. Thanks

  9. love cooking

    Oh…I am not sure which fish you are talking. Stingray is very popular in Asia. I know that people cutting shark fins and shark now is an endanger species. Chinese people like to eat shark fins during the wedding dinner. And shark fins always a food that Chinese people consider as a precious food. Yup! I stop eating shark fins, because it is so cruel that people cut the fins and then throw the shark alive back to sea without fins. So I also encourage my friends not pick this dish when they are married.:) But I am not sure about stingray, if so, will stop eating it too. 🙂

  10. Sheila

    My family loves fish on the grill. Can’t wait to try this one. Jaden I did a blog transformation ; ) I would love for you to check it out! Thanks! (the blogger formerly known as Strawberry CAKE ; D )

  11. Beth Bilous

    I’m sorry Jaden, i called you Michele by mistake. Please accept apologies. Please tell me if swordfish is meaty like red snapper, or gelly like sea bass.

  12. Susan in the Boonies

    Yummers. My dear husband had a heart attack (at age 56!) and heart bypass surgery in May, so we are always on the lookout for heart healthy recipes (which can be tricky to find on food blogs!)

    I make a cilantro garlic lime butter that we typically use on most fish, but I would love to give this a try!

  13. Sailaja

    I tried this recipe using King fish fillet. Used fresh coriander, mint leaves and garlic infused oil instead of oregano and basil. Awesome flavors. Thanks for sharing, Jaden.

  14. Chris

    That smoking gun reminds me of a device I made in college using a aquarium pump and a few other things. Wasn’t used for food but it sure made us hungry;)

    For cold smoking cheese, I build my own cold smoker using a tin can and soldering iron. One of the tricks to good smoked cheese is aging it after the smoking. If you eat it right away, ewwwwww. It needs to be vacuum sealed and aged at least 2 weeks, 30 days is better.

    That fish looks amazing. Great flavors and grilling makes everything better. Except ice cream, that just makes a mess of your grill….

  15. jules p

    I just wanted to say that I have never cooked fish. (ever) But I thought, from your recipe instructions, I could do this. And I did. Jaden…it was so delicious.
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe. And for making it seem like it was easy-and it was! 🙂

  16. Gretchen

    This looks scrumptious. As unorthodox as it sounds I add red wine vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to mixed herbs and olive oil and let the fish marinate for an hour or so. It always adds depth, and a bit of sweetness enriches most all fish!

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  20. Russ

    This recipe was absolutely delicious. Easy to make and simply stunning. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and healthy recipe!

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