fennel fish again

We'd already had some experience with fennel and fish before and it was good, but a little labor intensive. SO when this newspaper quickie recipe appeared, bob was motivated to act. The recipe flipped its way out of the paper into pole position on the kitchen counter in the (overflowing with good intentions) cookbook holder jammed with printouts and clippings, most victims of the perpetual problem of American life, lack of time to plan actual implementation. Halibut and fennel, an H fish. Unfortunately bob's memory being what it is for detail, at least for certain details, when looking for the H fish at the local farmer's market there were only haddock fillets and no halibut. Of course if he'd thought about it, he would remember from experience that halibut is a big fish quite unlike haddock filets, but hey, this could work with lots of different fish.

Since our discover of fennel at the Rome central train station, we've been keeping it in our food radar crosshairs, picking it up for raw additions to salads as well as an occasional baked (though pre-boiled) delivery. This time we got our our rarely used Titanium  chef's knife to thinly slice it up before boiling to soften it up a bit before finishing it off with parmigiano in the oven. It did the job. No doubt another less glamorous knife would have sufficed.

We opened up a white wine hand carried from Italy for the last step, but in our makeover, that step was aborted. The wine was a good partner for the finished dish though. And a big salad.  It doesn't take much  to whip up a good home cooked meal from scratch. Who's buying all that packaged prepared food at the supermarket? More to the point, why are they buying all that packaged prepared food at the supermarket? Hmm. Let's not get sidetracked on politics here.

Go find a fish and some fennel and try out some version of this recipe.


fennel precursor
2 fennel bulbs, stalks removed and fronds reserved
1 T butter or olive oil
1/4 t coarse (sea or kosher) salt
fish stuff
3 halibut steaks, about 8oz each or any mild fish—steaks or fillets—including
  swordfish, snapper, trout or whitefish (what, no haddock?)
3/4 t coarse (sea or kosher) salt
1/2 t cracked pepper
1/4 t ground red pepper
2 T butter or olive oil
fish topper/finisher
1/2 c grated parmigiano
1/4 c Pernod (see below) or dry white wine (or broth for alcohol avoiders)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat a medium pan of water to boil.
  2. Wash, trim and slice up the fennel bulbs into thin pieces, setting aside some of the cleaned fronds for garnish if you appreciate food aesthetics.
  3. Boil the fennel 10 minutes and drain. Toss in a bowl with the remaining precursor ingredients and set that aside too.
  4. Meanwhile (that means in parallel) season the fish with the fish spices. Heat the butter over medium high heat in a large oven safe skillet and then add the fish and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 3 minutes.
  5. Arrange the fennel around the fish and sprinkle the fennel with parmigiano.
  6. Roast (in that oven) until the fish is almost cooked through, about 7 minutes.
  7. Transfer the fish to a platter and keep warm.
  8. Reheat the skillet over high heat and add the alcohol, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan, and cook 1 minute.
  9. Spoon this sauce over the fish and garnish with the fennel fronds.


  1. Nutritional content per serving, assuming it feeds 6 people: 261Cal, 27g Prot, 6g Carb, 13g Fat, 67mg Chol, 682mg Sodium, 2g Fiber.
  2. Pernod? It's that anise family of hard drinks again (ouzo, arak, sambuca, etc). Feel free to try one of these instead.
  3. Courtesy of Knight-Ridder New Service, dedicated to excessive profits over fourth estate responsibilities, Philly Inquirer, January 6, 2005, Halibut with Fennel and Parmesan by Carol Mighton Haddix. Carol reminds us that fennel is one of those overlooked vegetables. We quite agree. And she characterizes this combo of mild fish and fennel with parmesan as quick and elegant. You decide.
fenlfsh2.htm: 20-nov-2005 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]