Your anxious awaiting slams to a halt: recipe number one from the Ovenless crew has arrived.
I was in the mood for fish on Friday afternoon, a clear day I spent working around the house and walking around the ‘hood. On my way home I was starting to think about dinner, and passed by a vegetable stand on Court St. near Warren. It’s a small shop with a good selection of fruits, veg, and particularly mushrooms. Not all the produce fits in with the idea of keeping it close (some Dole boxes, etc.) but it’s likely better than a supermarket. I decided to pick up some fennel and a handful of fingerling potatoes. It’s a combination inspired by a dish we did at The Dressing Room that paired cod with braised fennel and potatoes. My version uses striped bass (from Fish Tales on Court St.) and some grapefruit to brighten the whole thing.
Y’Need: 1 1/2 lb fillet striped bass, skin on (can sub cod, halibut, or similar fish). Handful fingerling potatoes. 1 head fennel. 1/2 Spanish onion. 1/2 glass white wine. Butter. Salt + Pepper.
Y’Do: Put the potatoes on in some salted water with a little thyme to boil. When they are ready (can easily poke a knife in) strain them and let cool.
Split the fennel in half, remove the core, and cut cross-wise into 1/4 inch strips. Slice onions pretty thickly and put the two in a pot with a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. Saute slowly for a few minutes then add the wine to cover the bottom of the pan, not necessarily the fennel. Turn the heat very low and cover the pot. Let the fennel and onions braise until soft, then chop the potatoes roughly and throw them in the pot, with the heat off, and let sit.
As the veg is nearly ready, get a saute pan hot and season the bass on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the bass skin-side down in the pan for a couple minutes to get the skin set and crispy. Flip it. (I did this somewhat awkwardly because we are still without a spatula. My serrated knife did a decent job after some plastic-based attempt melted on contact, but you can see in the picture that with a decent fish spatula the skin would have come loose much more nicely.)
When the fish is ready, just cooked through, take it out of the pan and deglaze the pan quickly with a splash of white wine. After that reduces for a second, swirl in some butter to make a little sauce and toss the vegetables in the pan a couple of times to get them coated. Zest some of the grapefruit in the pan, season if necessary. Plate the veg, laying the fish on top. A little more grapefruit zest, a couple cracks of pepper, and you have a rich but light meal. Check it out.