Monday, July 27, 2009

fennel grilled fish in tomato saffron broth

serves 2

1 bunch fennel - cut stems off and keep them, slice bulb into thin julienned wedges
2-3 fillets of halibut (or firm white fish)
3 large soft tomatoes (or half a can of stewed)
1/2 med sweet onion or 2 large shallots - chopped
1/2 cup white wine (not sweet)
1 cup water
4-8 saffron threads
olive oil
sea salt
cracked pepper
wedges of lemon

Optional: if you have a spice rub or marinade you like for fish you can use that but keep in mind that you want the flavors to enhance not overwhelm or clash with fennel, saffron and tomato. I suggest anything with cayenne, lavender, fennel seed, lemon, thyme, savory and i love fresh chervil if you can find it.
  • Wash and pat dry the fish. Rub it with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs or spices of your choice (not the saffron, that's for later). I like to take the fish and smother it in the fresh fennel tops. Even better is to squeeze and twist the tops to release the aromatics and the juices from the leaves and then wrap the fish steaks in the leaves and in foil or a container that seals. You can leave it like that for a few minutes, hours or overnight in the fridge.
  • turn on or start your grill and let it get nice and hot.
  • Take the sliced bulb of the fennel plant and the onion or shallot and sautée over a med flame in a little olive oil until semi-soft and near translucent.
  • Add saffron threads and stir a moment and then add tomatoes and white wine.
  • Bring mix to a strong simmer, then reduce heat to a low flame and cover loosely. Add water throughout to keep the flavors blending and the broth liquid.
  • Add salt & pepper to mingle flavors. Not too much. Just a pinch of each.
  • While the broth is simmering take the fennel plant stalks (cut off any excess leaves) and line them up on the grill for about 3 minutes. Just long enough for the heat to start roast the skins. Then let cool a moment and line the stalks up on a piece of tin foil.
  • When stalks are cool enough to hold your finger on indefinitely drizzle with a little oil and lay the fish steaks on the stalks. Wrap the whole thing in tinfoil leaving a little tent at the top for the heat and steam to infuse the fish with flavor. Place on the grill stalks down.
  • Grill/roast on the grill for about 10 minutes depending on thickness of the fish. Don't be afraid to open the fish at around 8 minutes and check it with a knife. It's better to put it back on the grill for another 3 or 4 minutes than to over cook the fish. No undoing that!
  • When fish is done. Open the foil, squeeze it with lemon and let stand for a minute while you plate the fennel onion confit and the tomato saffron broth in a large dish.
  • Carefully remove the fish steaks from the stalks and place the steaks over the broth on the plate.
  • Serve immediately.

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