Ten-minute dazzler: This ginger vinaigrette turns simple fish into a modern Asian show-stopper

Red snapper with ginger vinaigrette

I wish I could remember exactly what inspired this dish. I'm pretty sure New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten published a recipe for salmon with ginger vinaigrette somewhere, at some point, maybe in the 1990s – was it in a cookbook? A cooking magazine? I can't find any trace of it, no matter how much I Google. Did I dream it?

In any case, what I loved about the sauce was that it starred lots of julienned ginger – more ginger than you usually see on one plate. I made it once, Thierry and I both fell in love with it, and I made it many times after that, tweaking and changing it over the years. Lime juice, fish sauce and scallions (not in the original) now come into play. It didn't take too long to realize it's spectacular on just about any kind of fish: Not just salmon, but tuna, halibut, snapper, scallops, shrimp – even fish with serious personality, like mackerel. 

Did I mention it's super-easy to make, and fabulously healthy? It's ideal for a light and festive dinner for two, or as the centerpiece of an elegant dinner party. 


The genius of it is the ginger vinaigrette, which comes together in no time flat, but you can even make in advance, which is especially handy if you're entertaining. Just whisk together lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, olive oil and toasted sesame oil, then add sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and julienned ginger. If you're making it more than a few minutes ahead of time, wait till the last minute to add the cilantro.

Seared halibut in ginger vinaigrette

Last weekend I found some gorgeous halibut fillets on sale (it's usually so expensive!). After a couple days of seriously exaggerated eating, I wanted to make something light, lovely and easy for a relaxed dinner at home with Thierry. Halibut sounded luxurious, to boot.

It's really easy to overcook halibut, making it kind of dense and hard. But if you salt and pepper it, sear it in an oven-proof skillet in a little hot olive oil (four minutes skin-side up, two and a half minutes skin-side down), then finish it for three minutes in a 400-degree oven, it comes out absolutely perfect: lightly seared on the outside, silky and wonderful on the inside. Its delicate flavor is gorgeous with the ginger vinaigrette, which you just spoon onto a couple plates while the fish finishes in the oven. Set the fillets on top of the sauce when it comes out. 

We had it with roasted asparagus and radishes, which took on a whole new dimension as it crashed happily into the vinaigrette on the plate. Loved it!


But it doesn't have to be halibut, and it doesn't have to be seared. Grilling season is starting, and just about any kind of grilled fish sings with this, from tuna to snapper to mackerel – or skewered shrimp! Ditto fish done in a pan (scallops, salmon) or roasted in the oven (branzino!). 

Intrigued? Here's the halibut recipe:

Or maybe you want to try it with a different kind of fish. And you know what? I'm thinking it would also be great on grilled or seared chicken breasts. Here's the recipe for just the vinaigrette:

Please let us know you you like it!