“Citrus: 150 Recipes that Celebrate the Sour and the Sweet.” By Catherine Phipps. Quadrille. $29.99

My boyfriend, Sean, came home from the grocery store several months ago with a hand-held cheese grater.

To our frustration, we quickly discovered that little grater was not so handy after all. It worked fine on hard cheese and garlic, but grating a zucchini for bread was a mess. The tiny blades made grating soft cheese or long carrots a tiresome arm exercise. We came to envy the efficiency of my roommate’s large box grater.

It wasn’t until I picked up “Citrus: Recipes that Celebrate the Sour and the Sweet” by Catherine Phipps that I realized the source of our troubles. The little cheese grater is really a microplane zester. This mix-up is slightly embarrassing, but Phipps has helped me find a new purpose for this once-vexing appliance.

The 255-page book covers recipes from soups to sweets. Some hail from her parents’ home in Greece, while others invoke Japan with a hot and sour condiment called yuzukosho. There’s a recipe for dal with lemon or lime curry, and one for lime and chicken tortilla soup. As the book’s name suggests, citrus is the common thread. Every dish or drink includes some kind of lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit or other tangy ingredient.

“I love all the individual flavours and aromas of citrus, and the fact that I can use them in a wide range of international dishes,” Phipps writes in the introduction. “Their progression, historically, from East to West means that few cuisines are forced to do without them.”

Phipps includes a short primer on different types of citrus, as well as basic instructions on how to zest, cut or juice the fruit. Despite her clear instructions, I felt overwhelmed by the sophistication of the book. While some recipes have accompanying full-page photos, other pages are dominated by text. Entrée recipes – like Szechuan Peppercorn and Orange Beef, Seville Orange-Spiced Duck, and Grilled Aubergines with Mozzarella and Yuzokosho – often require a long list of ingredients that might mean an extra trip to the grocery store. Many dishes have multiple components – a base, a rub, a sauce or dressing, a garnish or side.

But with my newly identified zester in hand, I decided to tackle Spiced Sea Bass with Citrus Butter Sauce. The cooking was messy with all the grating and juicing, but it required surprisingly little time at the stove.

I was worried the flavors in the rub would be overpowering, but the turmeric and cardamom added a lovely Middle Eastern note to the dish. The sauce was light, but it made everything on our plates come alive with lemon and orange flavors.

We often make sweet potatoes with dinner, so I tried a version glazed with clementines. It was a fresh take on our regular side dish – one I will certainly make again. The stickiness on the kitchen counter from the fruit juices was worth the delicious meal.

Sean has now purchased a real cheese grater, but I don’t think the zester is going anywhere.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: megan_e_doyle

SPICED SEA BASS WITH CITRUS BUTTER SAUCE

The spicing here is fragrant rather than hot and has a vaguely Middle Eastern feel to it, so you could serve it with rice or couscous instead of chickpeas if you prefer.

Serves 4

4 sea bass fillets, skin on

1 tablespoon olive oil

30g/2 tablespoons butter

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 large orange

100 ml/7 tablespoons water

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE RUB:

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, pounded

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

TO SERVE:

350g/12 ounces spring greens, very finely shredded

350g/21/2 cups cooked chickpeas

Blot the sea bass fillets and lay skin side down on paper towels.

Combine all the rub ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the fillets. Press lightly.

Before you start frying the fish, cook the spring greens. Wash thoroughly, then put in a large, lidded saucepan without shaking off too much water. Cover and heat gently until the greens have wilted down and are just al dente – they should be a fresh, bright green.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. When hot, add the sea bass fillets, skin side down, and fry for a couple of minutes.

Flip over and cook for a further 30 seconds. Remove from the frying pan and keep warm.

Add the butter, garlic, lemon zest and juice and orange juice to the pan. Turn up the heat and let the mixture bubble until you have a glossy, syrupy sauce. Pour into a jug.

Deglaze the pan with the water. Add the chickpeas and spring greens and stir to pick up any flavour residue. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the fish with the chickpeas and greens, and the sauce spooned over.