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Sautéed Snapper with Finocchio, Sicilian Style




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Sautéed Snapper or Bass with Finocchio *
(Fennel), Sicilian Style

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Marcella Hazan, 1992, Alfred A. Knopf

* “Although there is an English equivalent for finocchio – Florence fennel –
for many cooks it’s the Italian word that has achieved everyday usage. Fennel
is related to anise, but its cool, mild aroma has none of its kin’s sharpness.”

For 4 servings

2 small snappers or sea bass, about 1 1/4 pounds each,
scaled and gutted, or an equivalent fillet of larger fish
2 large finocchi (fennel)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

1.Wash the fish in cold water, inside and out. If using a fish fillet,
separate it into two halves, remove the bones, but leave the skin on.
2. Cut off the finocchio tops down to the bulbs, and discard them. Trim
away any bruised, discolored portions of the bulbs. Cut the bulbs
lengthwise into thin slices less than 1/2 inch thick. Soak them in
cold water for a few minutes and rinse.
3. Choose a sauté pan that can subsequently accommodate all the fish.
Put in the olive oil, the sliced finocchio, salt, about 1/2 cup water,
and turn on the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook for 30
minutes or more, depending on the freshness of the finocchio,
until it is completely wilted and very tender. If after 20 minutes,
the finocchio appears still to be hard when prodded with a fork,
add 1/4 cup water.
4. When the finocchio is tender, uncover the pan, and turn up the heat
to boil away completely any liquid left in the pan. Turn the finocchio
slices frequently until they become colored a deep gold on both sides.
Add a few grindings of pepper, turn the heat down to medium, and
push the finocchio to one side to make room for the fish in the pan.
5. Put in the fish, skin side down if you are using fish fillet, sprinkle
with liberal pinches of salt and grindings of pepper, and spoon some
of the oil in the an over it. Cover and cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
Then gently turn the fish over, baste again with olive oil, cover,
and cook another 5 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of
the fish.
6. Transfer the fish to a platter and pour the entire contents of the pan
over it. If using whole fish, you might prefer to fillet it before placing
it on the serving platter. It’s not difficult to do: Separate the fish into
two lengthwise halves, pick out the bones, use a spoon to detach the
head and tail, and it’s done. Remember to cover with all the finocchio
slices and juices from the pan.

More from Marcella:
Grilled Fish Romagna Style
Sautéed Snapper with Finocchio, Sicilian Style
Sweet and Sour Tuna Steaks, Trapani Style


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