I’m not really a ‘fish’ person, and yet ironically, I love sushi. Go figure.
Nonetheless, eating fish is much better for me than say, a block of goat cheese slathered on a sourdough boule with a side of red wine (not that I would know, I’m just saying), so I pay special attention to fish recipes that offer an interesting twist. In this case, the fennel had me at hello and I could eat a shoe if it was drenched in citrus, so . . . there you have it! Additionally, you’ll bake the fish in individual packets (foil or parchment), making clean-up a breeze!
As with any fish, be careful not to over-bake — know thy oven!
Cod Baked in Foil with Orange, Fennel and Shallots
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
1 large fennel bulb (about 1 pound), trimmed, halved, cored and sliced into ¼-inch strips (about 4 cups)
2 medium shallots, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lemons, one for juicing, one for slicing into wedges as a garnish
2 medium oranges, ¼ teaspoon finely grated zest removed from one; both peeled, quartered and cut crosswise into
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons vermouth or dry white wine
4 skinless cod fillets, 1 to 1¼ inches thick (about 6 ounces each)
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel and sauté for 6-8 minutes, until the fennel has started to soften and has begun to brown. Add shallots and continue to cook until they are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
Combine butter, zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon tarragon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine orange pieces and remaining teaspoon tarragon. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat to 450ºF. Cut four 12-inch sheets of foil or parchment and arrange flat on counter. Mound fennel and shallot mixture evenly in the center of each foil sheet. Pour 1 tablespoon vermouth or white wine over each mound of the fennel mixture.
Pat fish dry with paper towels; season generously with salt and pepper on each side. Poke the top a few times with a fork to create tiny indentations. Place one cod fillet on top each fennel mixture and spread a quarter of the butter mixture on the top of each fillet.
Starting lengthwise, fold the foil toward the fish, overlapping each piece over the other. Bring the sides of the foil up, and twist, laying each side of foil over the top of the fish to create a sealed packet. Place packets on rimmed baking sheet.
Bake packets for 15 minutes. Carefully open foil, allowing steam to escape from you. Using a thin, metal spatula, gently slide the fish onto each plate, pouring the vegetables and accumulated juices over the top of the fish. Give the fish and vegetables a generous squeeze of lemon, and bon appétit!