Blackened Cod And Citrus Salad Recipe

Some things just go together seamlessly, like peanut butter and jelly, mint and chocolate chip, avocado and toast. What all of these winning combinations have in common is balance; whether it's between savory and sweet, sharp and mellow, or soft and crunchy, a good pairing needs two seemingly opposite elements. As it turns out, cod and citrus make up an unlikely duo that manages to strike that desired flavor balance. Blackening is a popular technique for seasoning and caramelizing meat and fish, resulting in a mellow-but-spicy seared skin. Sweet and acidic, citrus is the perfect opposition to blackened fish, the unlikely pairing that balances the rich flavors of the crispy caramelized crust. 

In this recipe written with developer Michelle McGlinn, delicate and flaky cod is blackened with chili, garlic, onion, and butter, then served atop a summery arrangement of lemon-tossed greens and colorful blood orange. The resulting salad is peppery but bright, with just the right amount of heat and an assortment of different textures. And if there's one thing this salad — and all of its opposing elements — can do, it's showing how good differences can be when paired together.

Gather the ingredients for blackened cod and citrus salad

The first thing you'll want to grab is cod, which is an inexpensive whitefish known for being dense and mild in flavor. Cod is a good choice for blackening because it can take on both the flavor and the high heat cooking, but if you want to swap it out, try tilapia instead. For blackening the cod, you'll need paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, and butter. From there, you'll need olive oil, lemon, garlic, Champagne vinegar, and honey to make the dressing, and arugula, watercress, and cannellini beans to make the base of the salad. The only ingredients you'll need from there are two types of citrus, naval and blood oranges, that feel mostly firm.

Step 1: Combine the seasonings

In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper.

Step 2: Season the cod

Rub each cod filet with the seasoning mixture.

Step 3: Melt the butter

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Step 4: Sear the fish

Once hot, add the cod and sear on either side until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 5: Make the dressing

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, grated garlic, vinegar, honey, and the remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Step 6: Toss the salad

Toss the arugula, watercress, and beans with the dressing in a large bowl.

Step 7: Transfer to a serving platter

To serve, add the tossed greens to a serving platter.

Step 8: Add the citrus

Top with citrus slices.

Step 9: Add the cod

Top with blackened cod and serve.

What does it mean to blacken cod or other foods?

A common misconception in blackening is that the surface of the meat or fish is being heavily charred by the high heat. If this were the case, you likely wouldn't enjoy the results — burning the skin causes a bitter taste. What's actually happening is a caramelization between the butter and spices. No blackening is complete without a variety of spices that darken in high heat, nor without the melted butter that browns as it cooks under the fish. The result is a spicy, nutty, ever-so-slightly sweet flavor that sits just on the outside of the fish. The inside is flaky, cooked to a perfect medium after a quick, hot sear. That is why thin cuts of meat and fish are best for blackening — they cook quickly, allowing the exterior to blacken without risking an undercooked inside. Cod especially fares well with blackening, being a dense fish that holds together in the high heat. 

Since this is a summery recipe, you might hesitate to heat up the kitchen in hot, sticky weather, instead turning to the grill to cook the fish. Our recommendation? Bring the cast-iron skillet outside to sear the cod — with the butter — on top of the grill, instead of directly on the grates. This way, you'll still get the dark golden brown color of a true blackening.

What other citrus or fruits can I use in this salad?

Despite how summery of a dish this light salad may be, you may find the stores have a low assortment of citrus to choose from during summer months. Blood oranges especially tend to pop up just past winter, barely sticking around for very long before being out of season again. If you find yourself without either orange, you can try a variety of options, instead. Within the citrus family, you can also use Mandarins, which will be sweeter but easy to find year-round. You can also try grapefruit instead of blood orange, especially if you tend to like bitter flavors (like palomas or negronis, for example). 

There are options you can try outside of citrus, too. Our favorite fruit to add to salads is melon, which is mellow and juicy with a soft texture. You can also lean into the savory, adding slices of avocado instead of traditionally sweet fruits. And if fruit is totally not your thing? Try crumbled goat cheese, instead, which will provide a tangy bite.

Blackened Cod And Citrus Salad Recipe
5 from 13 ratings
Both navel and blood oranges shine brightly in this peppery salad, which also features blackened cod and cannellini beans.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
6
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
cod and citrus salad on plate
Total time: 21 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 + ¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 + ¼ teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 4 cod filets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 2 cups watercress
  • 2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced
  • 2 small Naval oranges, peeled and sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper.
  2. Rub each cod filet with the seasoning mixture.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Once hot, add the cod and sear on either side until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, grated garlic, vinegar, honey, and the remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  6. Toss the arugula, watercress, and beans with the dressing in a large bowl.
  7. To serve, add the tossed greens to a serving platter.
  8. Top with citrus slices.
  9. Top with blackened cod and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 580
Total Fat 21.8 g
Saturated Fat 5.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 114.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 46.1 g
Dietary Fiber 10.4 g
Total Sugars 14.6 g
Sodium 1,300.0 mg
Protein 52.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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