Sunday, October 26, 2008

Braised Fish with Fennel and Tomato

I first discovered the Martha Stewart Living magazine when I was a wee girl. My step-mom used to subscribe to the magazine and remember I loved visiting her house because I couldn't wait to check out what Martha was up to. But as I got older and started discovering other cooking magazines, I began to find Living a bit boring in that most of the recipes didn't have enough chutzpah.

This past week I flew to Virginia and I decided to buy a Living magazine to read on the plane and wow, has the magazine changed! This was the Thanksgiving issue so there were a lot of classic recipes with new twists, and easy recipes that sounded too good to be true. One of those recipes was this braised fish. Now, her recipe only had fresh tomatoes (I sneaked in a can of whole peeled tomatoes) and I used Orange Roughy instead of halibut or grouper. I also used preserved lemom instead of fresh lemon. I made the preserved lemon a few months ago, but you can use fresh lemon if you don't have access to preserved lemon. Lastly, I used a Viognier wine from Martin Vinyards in Knott Island, North Carolina. The fish came out tender and full of flavor and the sauce was terribly good.


  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a Viognier)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced lenghwise
  • 1 medium tomato, cored and corsely chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) of whole, peeled tomatoes and its juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 thin preserved lemon slices (use fresh lemon if preserved lemons are unavailable)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Herbs de Provence
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. roughly chopped parsely
  • 4 skinless fillets of firm-fleshed fish (each about same thickness size), such as grouper, halibut, seabass or snapper (I used Orange Roughy)

In a large 13-inch skillet, pour the oil, wine, water, fennel, fresh and canned tomatoes and its juice (crush the canned whole tomatoes with your hand or a spatula), garlic, Herbs de Provence, and preserved lemon slices. Add 1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer over moderate heat until the fennel softens, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper and arrange fillets in the pan, partially submerging them in the sauce. Sprinkle chopped parsely all over fish and suce and cover and simmer until fish is opaque throughout, about 6 to 8 minutes. Gently turn fish over and cook one more minute.

Spoon some of the braising sauce onto plates and top with fish. Drizzle with more olive oil (optional) and serve with a side of nutty, steamed rice.

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