SEA BASS WITH FENNEL AND OLIVES
Jekka's Herb Cookbook
by Jekka McVicar
We ate this in Majorca, where it is made with the wild fennel that grows all over the island and is served on wooden platters. This simple dish, with the anise flavor of the fennel leaves combined with the fresh sea bass, is in my opinion sheer heaven.
• Olive oil
• 2 sea bass fillets, each approximately 3½ oz (100 g)
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) Fennel leaves, finely sliced
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp (5 ml) fennel seeds, crushed
• 2 bulbs fennel, halved and finely sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• 4 large handfuls Swiss chard, finely sliced
For the sauce
• 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
• 6 anchovy fillets
• 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil
• 2 large handfuls small black olives, pits removed
• 1/3 cup (75 ml) whipping (35%) cream
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Preheat the broiler to medium, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and rub it with olive oil.
Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the fish fillets (about halfway through the fish) and stuff with the fennel leaves. Place the fish, skin side up, on the baking sheet and cover with a few good glugs of olive oil and salt, pepper and crushed fennel seeds. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the fish is cooked through.
Gently fry the fennel slices and garlic with a pinch of salt in 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil until softened and lightly colored. Add the chard and cook until the stalks are soft.
To make the sauce, gently fry the garlic and anchovies in the olive oil until soft. Chop half the olives, keeping the other half whole, and add these to the garlic and anchovies. Fry for another minute. Remove from the heat and add the cream and parsley. Check the seasoning, adding pepper if required.
Serve the fish and vegetables with the warm sauce poured overtop. Decorate with the remaining whole olives.