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Branzino with fennel

Published on February 3, 2007 9:58 AM | Comments

I didn't know what "Branzino" was until I read "Heat" by Bill Buford. The story of a writer nearly burning his hands off over a commercial grill in some sort of higher pursuit that he doesn't really understand so intrigued me that when I saw this fish in the store I had to try it. The photo is of my second attempt - I think I have it down now - and my technique is not as dangerous as Buford's.


The recipe is below the fold.

This is loosely adapted from the "Silver Spoon", the bible of Italian cooking that was just recently translated into English for the first time.

You can cook as many fish as you want - this preparation was done in a convection oven with three small fish. For three fish I used two medium sized fennel bulbs. About half of one bulb was chopped and sauteed lightly in a pan with olive oil and garlic, with a splash of white wine at the end (I usually cook with an Orvieto). This mixture was then spooned into the cavity of the fish along with a sprig of fresh rosemary. The rest of the fennel was sliced and put in the bottom of a glass baking dish, on parchment paper, with some more chopped garlic. The stuffed fish were placed on top, then the whole dish was given a liberal dose of olive oil, salt, and pepper and put into a very hot over - in the U.S. I would say around 400 degrees. It is done when it is done - you never want to overcook fish, but you do want it to get crispy on the edges, and for some of the fennel to brown. To serve, place a fish on a plate, and spoon over the fennel with the juices left over. If you pan dries out while cooking, add a little more white wine. You can dress it at the end with a little fresh olive oil and some salt.

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