Fish fillets in a citrus and honey sauce

September 6, 2010  •  Category:


One of my favorite places in Beirut is called Café Rawda; it is right on the Mediterranean shore, next to a decrepit luna park and a row of no less decrepit beaches.

So nostalgia is part of the appeal, as it is located in the area where Beirut owed its reputation as the Paris of the Middle-East.

This Café is supposed to be the place where the intellectuals hang out; today I was  craning  my neck trying to spot some,  but I only saw, as usual,  women sitting at long tables with their children and girlfriends,  smoking the hookah and ordering their maids around.

Then I noticed  two men:  one  had a stack of  newspapers on his lap,  and the other one  was scribbling furiously with a marker and had a glue stick on his table and a pile of notebook papers.

Needless to say, after a day spent at a café, time was of the essence, hence this light and easy dish.


  • 1 pound of fish fillets
  • 1  grapefruit
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • a splash of white wine or water
  • a sprig of lemon verbena or a dash of fennel seeds
  • salt, pepper, to taste


  1. If possible, curl up the fillets and hold with a toothpick if needed; the ones I bought were frozen and already shaped.
  2. Assemble the sauce: peel the grapefruit, cut segments and place in a deep skillet; juice the oranges,  add the honey and olive oil. Season to taste and add some sprigs of lemon verbena or a bit of fennel seeds. Add a splash of wine or water if the fruits are not juicy enough.
  3. Bring the sauce to a simmer; drop the fish fillets in the sauce, cover and cook for about 12 minutes or until the fish looks firm and cooked.
  4. Remove and serve with noodles.


39 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Katerina says:

    I love the fish-fruits combo. It must taste very uniquely.

  2. Mod Mekkawi says:

    We were planning on a sayyadiyé dinner one day this week… instead we’ll try this sweet ‘n sour “Fish fillets in a citrus and honey sauce” dish. Sounds delicious! Also, I love your introductory text of life scenes of Beirut. They’re great complements for your recipes.

  3. Chrystel says:

    Cette recette salée-sucrée de poisson me plait beaucoup et semble délicieuse. Merci de ce beau partage via Beyrouth.
    Beyrouth doit être une ville très abîmée par tous les événements qui s’y sont passés. Quel dommage que les gens soient si compliqués !
    Bises de FRANCE.

  4. Christie @ Fresh says:

    I think any recipe that calls for lemon verbena is great. This looks like such a unique recipe to cook fish.

  5. elra says:

    Lemon verbena for savory dish, I am intrigued.

  6. Lori says:

    You left me hanging with the men and their stack of newspapers.

    Oh I do love to people watch.

    This dish sounds really tasty. I dont know if I ever told you but I do so love the taste of hummus and sardines together. You were so totally right.

  7. Barbara Bakes says:

    What a gorgeous place to hang out! I’d want to spend all day too. The meal looks like a perfect ending to a great day.

  8. OysterCulture says:

    What an amazing looking dish, I have never made anything like it and I feel bereft as a result.

  9. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    Joumana, you must organize a tour to Lebanon for us who would love to go and no idea how to do it.

  10. Pamela says:

    I willl absolutely try this recipe: I will love the lemon verbena on the fish, what a great mixture! thanks for the day at the café

  11. lisaiscooking says:

    This sounds like a lovely, refreshing dish with the citrus. And, I love citrus with fennel too.

  12. The AmerArab Wife says:

    This sounds stunning. I’m really new to cooking fish, and although I love citrus sauces I had not thought to combine the two. I’ll be excited to try this. What is lemon verbena called in Arabic?

  13. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    I wonder what those men were up to. You don’t often see glue sticks out and about.

  14. najwa says:

    Hi Joumana

    How are you and how is your family and all lebanese in California.

    I would like to thank you for all the recipes you have been sending me. Can you please send me the recipe for maamoul and kaak bi semaak. It would help alot if you do.
    Thank you, Najwa.

  15. Joanne says:

    Mmm light and easy sounds so good to me. Citrus and honey? Sounds so refreshing.

  16. mylittleexpatkitchen says:

    This looks so fresh and light. I love these kinds of dishes. I can imagine it with a bit of wild thyme Greek honey…

  17. Barbara says:

    Looks good, Joumana. Fish and citrus go so well together. The honey addition is interesting.
    Café Rawda certainly has a lovely view, much better than Les Deux Magots in Paris, where I never have seen any intellectuals either. The two men you saw were probably school teachers! I think we should have been at these two places in the 20’s!

  18. Nadji says:

    Moi non plus, je n’ai pas vu d’écrivains ni au Flore, ni aux 2 magots.
    J’aime beaucoup la cuisine sucrée/salée et ce poisson aux agrumes et miel me semble parfait.
    Bonne semaine et à bientôt.

  19. SYLVIA says:

    This is fine dining made simple with exotic elegance in everyday fish dinner, tang with personality, the orange flavor infuses, and tucks neatly into the fish, it’s a day of eating done Jouimana’s way.
    The breathtaking aqua blue sea is absolutely gorgeous, the sun-kissed water, the warmth of the sun is stunning. Beirut lived up to its reputation of being little Paris, the elegant shops that sold top of line clothing, women dressed in the latest of fashion, I am happy to hear is prospering again and recapturing its title back. Thank you Joumana for all the especial pictures.

  20. Suman Singh says:

    sounds great and delicious dish..never cooked fish fillets like this before..thanks!

  21. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    The recipe is great, love mixing citrus with fish too. I do find the concept of seeing women ordering their maids around in public hilarious, not something you would see in Montreal for sure lol.

  22. Doc says:

    Love the POM juice and rosewater refresher. The fish dish looks divine-does Lebanese cooking have a spicy-heat component that one might add to such a dish?

    • Joumana says:

      @Doc: strictly speaking, no; although in Tripoli, there is a fabulous fish called samke harra (meaning fish hot) which has some heat with chili peppers; normally lebanese food is not hot; the heat has trickled down from Aleppo in Syria where they do use some chili peppers.

  23. deana says:

    All that lovely citrus must make for a bright tasting fish dish… can’t wait to try. I wish lemon verbena was easier to find here… but the fennel is an interesting idea… maybe a little pernod!

  24. 5 Star Foodie says:

    The citrus and honey sauce sounds excellent with the fish!

  25. TastyTrix says:

    The addition of honey with the citrus is so interesting!! How fun to sit and people watch by the Mediterranean.

  26. Faith says:

    People watching is so much fun, isn’t it?

    The fish looks great, I love it paired with the different citrus fruits. Very light and refreshing flavors!

  27. Chef Dennis says:

    what a delightful blend of flavors! the citrus with the honey, is so good!! That had to be one delicious piece of fish! I have to look for some lemon verbana at the market!

  28. kristy says:

    The salad sounds really exotic! And the place is so beautiful. It’s best to hang out during the weekend. Hope you’re enjoying your day.
    Cheers, Kristy

  29. Angie's Recipes says:

    The sauce sounds fantastic to go with seafood!

  30. fimère says:

    cette sauce aux agrumes et miel doit être divine et je trouve qu’elle se marie bien le poisson
    belle recette
    bonne journée

  31. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    I love your reflections on life in Beirut The cafe scene, complete with the rundown Luna Park, sounds very similar to the one I experienced in Syria. 😉

  32. Susan says:

    People watching must be amazing there and what a beautiful view of the sea. Your so-called light and easy dish looks delicious!

  33. Oui, Chef says:

    I’ve been enjoying a delicious grapefruit marmalade on my morning toast over the past week, and dreaming of getting its flavor into other dishes. I bet this grapefruit – honey sauce is a good approximation…thanks for the inspiration! – S

  34. Chef Sol says:

    Greetings and Blessings from Argentina
    Exquisite Receipe!…such as your lovely blog!
    keep up the good work!

  35. FOODESSA says:

    I just love sauces of this type…especially to go with fish meals ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  36. Julie says:

    Voilà une sauce qui doit se marier à merveille avec le poisson, ça m’a l’air digne d’un grand restaurant (pour reprendre l’expression qu’on entend dans toutes les émissions de télé-réalité culinaires!!).

    Des bisous!

  37. tobias cooks! says:

    I like the touch of grapefruit with the orange. I am sure this is great.

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