Oven Roasted Branzino with Caramelized Fennel and Tomatoes

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The beauty of this meal is in the freshness of the fish. I find a 1 lb fish sufficient to serve one person as a main. If your guests aren’t squeamish of whole fish, this is a great dinner party recipe. It cooks up beautifully and is fairly low maintenance.

Oven Roasted Branzino with Caramelized Fennel and Tomatoes

  • Four 1 lb or larger sea bass, sea bream or whole fish of your choosing, scaled, gutted, well cleaned and patted dry
  • 1 lemon, sliced very thinly and more for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp neutral oil for greasing
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup large pitted green olives, cut in half
  • Capers or caper leaves for serving
  • Chopped parsley for serving
  • High quality olive oil and chili pepper flakes for serving

Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with foil or parchment.

Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally into the cavity and over the surface of the fish. Stuff the fish with lemon, garlic and herbs and drizzle with 2 Tbsp neutral oil. Arrange on the baking tray and roast for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes, olives the remaining oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Scatter around the fish and roast for another 10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes off the bone and is cooked through.

Caramelized Fennel

  • 3 bulbs fennel, trimmed of exterior leaves and cut into ¼ inch slices with core in tact
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of sugar, optional but helps with the browning
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Before you add the tomatoes and olives to the fish, heat a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and get the oil nice and hot. Add the fennel spreading it as much as possible into a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a touch of sugar and leave the fennel undisturbed and allow it to get nice and golden. Flip once to allow the other side to brown up. Remove from heat and drain any extra oil if necessary. The fennel can sit in the warm pan as the fish cooks. Just before serving, add the lemon juice and give everything a toss.

Plate up the fish into portions. Distribute the veggies, top with fish, caper leaves, parsley, finishing salt and dress with the best quality olive oil you have.

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