Branzino Stuffed with Fennel

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Branzino Stuffed with Fennel

These delicous filets of Mediterranean Sea Bass or Branzino are awesome when you have a small crowd to feed. They are quick to prepare and have a uniquely festive appearance. Ask your fishmonger to pick the best looking fish and scale and fillet it for you. Check for bones along the center of each fillet before cooking, those are easy to spot and pull out with kitchen tweezers. For the stuffing, you will need four fennel bulbs (fronds reserved), thinly sliced on mandolin or with a sharp knife, stock, butter, olive oil and seasoning. Quickly sauté the sliced fennel, it will bring out the sweetness and will soften the anise flavor. This is actually a great dish to be served on its own or as a side dish, especially if you aren’t a fan of raw fennel. You will be surprised to find out how delicious fennel gets after sautéing and quick braising in chicken stock. To proceed with the recipe, season each fillet with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, place three fennel fronds on top. Spoon some of the sautéed fennel on top and wrap the fillet up, tie with a kitchen twine into a bow tie! Bake it for about twelve minutes and enjoy this recipe at your next summer alfresco dinner or lunch with friends!

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Ingredients: Branzino fillets, fennel bulbs, chicken broth, butter, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Thinly shave fennel, reserve the frond.

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I like to use Japanese mandolin to slice vegetables thinly but if you are skilled with a sharp knife, you can achieve similar results.

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Sauté fennel: To sauté fennel, work in batches or use two medium sized non-stick pans. Heat the pan over medium heat, drizzle some oil and add 1 tablespoon of butter, let it melt. Add half of thinly sliced fennel, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. When it begins to soften and brown in places, pour 1/3 cup chicken broth and cook until it evaporates completely or fennel gets soft and sweet, 5-8 minutes longer. Proceed with the rest of butter, fennel and broth. Transfer to a bowl.

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Sautéed fennel.

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Ask your fishmonger to  pick the best clear-eyed fish, as well as to scale and fillet it for you.

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Run your fingers along the center of each fillet and remove the bones, there are approximately 5 of them there. I like to use special tweezers but I have it done with my eye brow tweezers before.

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Season each fillet with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Place 3 fennel fronds along the fillets.

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Place 3 tablespoons of sautéed fennel 2-inches away from the edge of the largest part of the fillet.

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Lift up the opposite edge of the fillet and fold it over the fennel.

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Tie the fillet with kitchen twine.

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Finish off with the bow tie.

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Shorten the strings with scissors if desired. The longer the string, the easier for you to untie the fish once it is served cooked.

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Proceed with the rest of fillets.

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Preheat the oven to 400 F. Drizzle baking sheet with oil lightly and place stuffed fillets on top.

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Season each with salt and pepper and drizzle very lightly with olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes.

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Serve hot or warm, the fillets will hold their shape nicely.

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alfresco-dinner-sea-bass

Bon Appétit!
Svitlana

Branzino Stuffed with Fennel

recipe details

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the fish

  • 4 Branzino, or Mediterranean Sea Bass, scaled, filled
  • 4 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced, fronds reserved
  • 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, more for drizzling
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Equipment

  • Japanese mandolin or sharp knife
  • Fish bone tweezers
  • Baking sheet
  • Kitchen string and scissors

Directions

  1. Sauté fennel: To sauté fennel, work in batches or use two medium sized pans. Heat the pan on medium heat, pour oil and add 1 tablespoon of butter, let it melt. Add half of thinly sliced fennel, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. When it begins to soften and brown in places, pour 1/3 cup chicken broth and cook until it evaporates completely, 5 minutes longer. Proceed with the rest of butter, fennel and broth. Transfer to a bowl.
  1. Clean the fillets: Make sure that fillets are clean of scales and bones, there are approximately 5 small bones along the spine in the middle which are easy to remove with tweezers. Pat fillets dry with paper towels to absorb extra moisture. Season each fillet with salt and pepper. Place 3 fennel fronds along the fillets.
  1. Place 3 tablespoons of sautéed fennel 2-inches away from the edge of the largest part of the fillet, lift up the opposite edge of the fillet and fold it over the fennel. Tie the fillet with kitchen twine; finish off with the bow tie. Proceed with the rest of fillets.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Drizzle baking sheet with oil lightly and place stuffed fillets on top. Season each with salt and pepper and drizzle very lightly with olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes. Serve hot or warm!

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