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orange roughy and remoulade orange 015There is a charming old children’s song in which a mother coaxes her little one to take its first step in these words:  “Dance to your daddy, My little babby [sic], Dance to your daddy, My little lamb!”

And once it does, she promises:  “You shall have a fishy. In a little dishy, You shall have a fishy. When the boat comes in.”

Alive and swimming, the Orange Roughy’s appearance might easily alarm a baby.  (Here are some wikipedia photos.) So might its name, had not the US National Marine Fisheries rechristened it in 1976…transforming the ‘Slimehead’ into the ‘Orange Roughy’ to enhance the fish’s appeal in the marketplace.

Skinned and filleted, it is indeed a fine ‘fishy’ for anyone’s ‘dishy’…babe or adult.  A single fillet is of the right size to serve a single person.  The flesh is firm and therefore holds together well when sautéed.  And its mild flavour is an obliging foundation for a variety of herbs and spices.

In the diplomatickitchen menu A Lunch with Spice and Many Things Nice, Orange Roughy is served with Potato Croquettes and Orange Remoulade Sauce.  The remoulade will suit the fish as well as it does the croquettes.  The fish is highly spiced and  blackens as it sears.  This is how it should look and does not at all indicate a burnt quality or taste.

orange roughy and remoulade orange 018Spice-seared Orange Roughy (for 6 people)

Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.

Timing Note:  The fillets will profit by a milk bath of up to 6 hours.  (See the description below for how to do this.)  The fillets may be buttered and spiced in advance and refrigerated until just before they are cooked.  Sauté them just before serving….they will be done in about 6 minutes.

orange roughy and remoulade orange 008Ingredients:

  • 6 fillets of Orange Roughy (each fillet weighs about 8 ounces)
  • Optional:  Milk, 1 teaspoon of coarse Salt and 1 teaspoon of coarse ground Black Pepper for a milk bath.  (See Step 1 below.)
  • 4 teaspoons of dried Thyme Leaves (not powdered)
  • 4 teaspoons of Cayenne
  • 4 teaspoons of Sweet Paprika (Szegedi Paprika from Szeged, Hungary is widely available in the States and is of the very best quality.)
  • 2 teaspoons of coarse ground Salt
  • 2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder
  • 4 teaspoons White Pepper…but Black will do if you have no White
  • 1/2 cup of softened Butter plus 3/4 cup of Butter, melted and clarified:  To clarify the butter, melt it slowly in a small pot.  Tip the pot and skim the foam and white solids off, leaving the clear yellow (clarified) part of the butter in the pot.  The clarified butter burns at a higher temperature than whole butter and is very good for sautéing something without burning it.


  • a shallow Pan or Casserole for the optional milk bath
  • a small Bowl
  • a wide, heavy-bottomed Skillet

1.  Even if the fish fillets are fresh, and certainly if they are frozen, a milk bath is recommended for removing any ‘fishy’ smell.  Place the fish in a shallow pan or casserole, pour in milk to cover them, adding a teaspoon each of coarse ground salt and pepper and allow the fish to soak, refrigerated for up to 6 hours.

2.  Mix together in a small bowl the thyme, cayenne, paprika, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

3.  Remove the fillets from the milk bath (if you have gone that route) and pat them dry.  Smear both sides of each fillet with some of the softened butter.  Pat the spice mixture over both sides of the fillets.  (The fish fillets may be prepared up to this point in advance and refrigerated until ready to sauté them.)

4.  Pour half of the clarified butter into the pan and heat it over a medium flame until it is hot.  Add half of the fillets and cook them for about 3 minutes on one side.  (The first side of the fillets, when done, will be golden with blackened edgings.)  Turn them and cook them for about 3 minutes on the second side.  Wipe out the pan, add the remaining clarified butter and sauté  the remaining fillets in the same way.  Serve at once and with the Orange Remoulade Sauce if you like.

orange roughy and remoulade orange 016Orange Remoulade Redux:  for about 1 cup (The recipe is repeated below for convenience.  The sauce is suggested as an accompaniment to the Potato Croquettes that are served with the fish in the lunch menu:  A Lunch with Spice and Many Things Nice.  But, it is good with the fish as well.


  • 1/4 cup of Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup of Green Onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of coarse-grained Dijon Mustard
  • 1/8 cup of White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Sweet Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh Orange Juice
  • 3 – 4 drops of Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce…more or less–to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground Salt


  • a Food Processor fitted with the Blade Attachment or a Blender
  • a Bowl

1.  Place all the ingredients in the processor or blender and mix until the ingredients form a smooth sauce.

2.  Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate it, covered, for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Any leftover sauce will keep well for many days refrigerated.

orange roughy and remoulade orange 025A Note:   Spice-seared Orange Roughy is the Main Course of the Lunch Menu:  A Lunch with Spice and Many Things Nice.  Both the fish and the sauce recipes are adapted  from ones  in an excellent cookbook about ‘Cowboy’ Cooking:  Cooking the Cowboy Way by Grady Spears and June Naylor (2009).

orange roughy and remoulade orange 021

An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2013