This post might include affiliate links
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Tangerine Vanilla Seafood Sauce Recipe

Have you noticed a lot of bath products sound like food? Flavors like vanilla, cucumber, orange and almond are all making it into personal care products. I have some tangerines that I was trying to figure out what I should do with and it occurred to me that combining them with vanilla might be nice. Searching online for "tangerine and vanilla" I found hand cream, hair "texturizer", scented soap and lip balm! And here I was thinking about making a sauce for scallops...

Citrus combines wonderfully with seafood. The only thing is the acid can actually cook the fish, so you have to marinate quickly, use the rind only or make a sauce to finish the dish instead. Vanilla may be a surprising choice to pair with citrus but it actually makes a lot of sense. Vanilla counteracts the acidity in citrus and creates a more complex flavor. Over ten years ago at the now-defunct Maurice restaurant in the Parker-Meridien hotel in New York, Michelin three-star French chef Alain Senderens introduced a groundbreaking dish--lobster with vanilla sauce. Since that time, chefs have used vanilla in savory dishes as well as sweet ones. For example British chef Jamie Oliver uses the scrapings from a whole vanilla bean and lemon juice as a marinade for steamed sea bass. But at three dollars a pop for vanilla beans, I'm sticking with vanilla extract until prices come back down to earth.

Scallops are one of the fastest cooking and most elegant shellfish. They make a fancy looking meal in a flash. Since they are expensive, stretch them, by sauteeing them to serve over risotto, a salad or mix with other seafood like fish or shrimp. They are very mild and take well to this Tangerine Vanilla sauce. It's lovely creamy and sweetly scented, but I wouldn't suggest bathing with it.

Tangerine Vanilla Seafood Sauce


2 tangerines
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon finely grated tangerine peel
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
dash of salt


Squeeze the tangerines and reduce the juice in a small saucepan over low heat. When the liquid is syrupy and reduced by at least half, about two tablespoons total, take off the heat and add the vanilla and tangerine peel. Stir to combine. Whisk in the butter over low heat. Salt very lightly.
Use to top sauteed scallops, shrimp or other mild flavored seafood. Can be used right away or refrigerated.