Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

2 12 2011

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

We’re in the middle of the holiday season with all of its requisite parties, dinners and general overindulgence. However, sometimes in the midst of festive meals and a few too many cocktails, we start to crave something a bit lighter. Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes is just the dish to serve: it’s on the lighter side but is still packed with lots of flavour.

What is Sablefish?

Sablefish is also commonly known as black cod, butterfish and sable. It is a mild, buttery white fish, typically caught in the North Pacific Ocean off British Columbia and Alaska. According to The Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Canadian counterpart, SeaChoice.org, sablefish is considered a ‘Best Choice’ for sustainability, meaning that stocks are abundant and well managed.

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 sablefish (black cod) fillets weighing about 4 oz. (113 grams) each
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel (white part), sliced about 1/4“ thick
  • 12 large cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ clove garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

For Crumb Topping:

  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs made from fresh bread (about 1 thick slice of bread)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (use a mortar and pestle or the side of a large knife to crush them)
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Prepare the Crumb Topping: In a small bowl, add the breadcrumbs, oil, chopped thyme, fennel seed, salt and pepper and stir together until all breadcrumbs are moist. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper evenly over the fish fillets and set aside. Preheat the oven broiler and move the rack to the top position.
  3. Heat a large ovenproof, non-stick skillet on medium heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add the fennel slices and sauté until they caramelize and turn a dark golden brown, about 14 minutes. Be sure to stir the fennel around so it doesn’t burn and remove any pieces that brown quickly.
  4. Once the fennel has caramelized, remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate. Return the skillet to the burner and turn heat to medium-high. Heat the remaining olive oil and place the sablefish fillets in the pan, skin side down.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fish for two minutes. Carefully turn the fillets over and cook for another two minutes.
  6. Turn the fish once again, so the skin side is down. Add the cherry tomatoes, wine, garlic, thyme and lemon juice and cook for another 2-1/2 to 3 minutes or until the fillets are almost fully cooked through. Return the cooked fennel to the pan.
  7. Press a couple of spoonfuls of the breadcrumb mixture onto the top of each of the fillets. Place the skillet with the fish under the oven broiler, watching very carefully, until the crumbs turn golden and crisp, about one minute.
  8. To serve: Divide the caramelized fennel and tomatoes between four servings and mound in the centre of each plate. Place a piece of the sablefish on each portion of fennel/tomatoes and spoon the pan sauce over the fish.
  9. Garnish with a sprig of fennel frond, if desired, and serve immediately.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

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Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

14 10 2011

Fennel seed can add a zesty bite of anise to dishes (including Tuscan salami and boxed pizza!)

I first discovered fennel seed in a somewhat unusual way. When I was a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s, my mom would sometimes make boxed Kraft pizza (we lived in a rural community so delivery wasn’t an option). Each kit contained a can of sauce, dough mix and a seasoning packet of dried herbs to sprinkle over the pizza. All you had to do was add the toppings of your choice which usually included ground beef, mushroom slices (canned, of course) and cheese. I always loved the seasoning packet – it added a zippy burst of Italian flavour to our less than authentic pizzas. Years later I finally realized what it was that gave our ‘pizzas’ the flavour I loved so much: fennel seed.

Fennel seeds are the dried fruit of the sweet fennel plant. They have an anise (black licorice) flavour and pair well with pork. In Italy’s Tuscan region, fennel salami (finocchiona) is very popular and fennel seeds are often crushed to rub onto meat before roasting or grilling. They impart a delicious burst of anise flavour when chewed. Fennel seeds can be found at most well stocked grocery stores or kitchen shops. Look for whole seeds as opposed to ground ones.

A tip: You can use either cream or evaporated milk in this recipe. While cream will give the sauce a silky richness, it’s very high in fat and calories – low-fat canned evaporated milk is a decent substitute.

Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5 mild or sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • A 14 oz. (398 ml) can of tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup evaporated milk or cream
  • Pinch of sugar, to taste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500 g (1 lb.) dried penne or rigatoni
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
  1. In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Slice the skins of the sausages lengthwise down the middle and remove the meat from their casings. Discard the casings. Add the sausage meat to the pot and use a spatula or spoon to break up the meat. Add garlic and fennel seeds.
  3. Cook sausage mixture on medium-high until just browned, about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add evaporated milk or cream and stir into sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar (optional – use if the tomatoes are very acidic), salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat while the penne cooks.
  6. In a separate large pot with a lid, heat water to cook the penne. Bring to a boil and cook penne until al dente, according to package instructions, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Drain penne and toss with sauce until thoroughly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed makes a simple and delicious autumn dinner

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.




Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

30 11 2010

Sablefish (aka Black Cod) with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes is a flavourful, lighter option.

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes parties, festive meals and general overindulgence.  Why not lighten up with a pan-roasted fish dish that doesn’t sacrifice flavour?

Sablefish is more commonly known as black cod.  It has become popular in the past few years because it is both sustainable and delicious.  Nobu restaurant popularized sablefish in their iconic dish, Black Cod with Miso, which has been copied by restaurants across North America (with good reason – it’s delicious).  Preparing the fish with fennel, cherry tomatoes and a lightly herbed crust gives it a Mediterranean twist.

Sablefish should be available at well-stocked fishmongers under the name sablefish, sable, butterfish or black cod.

To get the recipe from Suite 101.com, click here: Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!





Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

1 11 2010

Penne with sausage and fennel seed

I can’t believe it’s already November!  It seems like just yesterday I was excited about the first chives of spring peeking out of my herb pot.  Now most of the farmers’ markets are done for the year and there is the possibility of snow in many areas (in fact, it snowed in Eastern Canada yesterday!).  However, there is still a lot of seasonal cooking we can do and as we get cozy, our menus become more hearty and warming.

This easy pasta dish is rich and filling but you can use evaporated milk in place of cream to lighten the sauce a bit.  Lean sausages also work but make sure not to overcook them or they will become dry.  You can also use whole wheat penne instead of white if you’d prefer.  It’s perfect after a vigorous autumn hike or day of raking leaves.

Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5 mild or sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A 14 oz. (398 ml) can of tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup evaporated milk or cream
  • Pinch of sugar, to taste (optional – if tomatoes are very acidic)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500 g (1 lb.) dried penne or rigatoni
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
  1. In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Slice the skins of the sausages lengthwise down the middle and remove the meat from their casings. Discard the casings. Add the sausage meat to the pot and use a spatula or spoon to break up the meat. Add garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  3. Cook sausage mixture on medium-high until just browned, about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add evaporated milk or cream and stir into sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar (optional – use if the tomatoes are very acidic), salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat while the penne cooks.
  6. In a separate large pot with a lid, heat water to cook the penne. Bring to a boil and cook penne until al dente, according to package instructions, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Drain penne and toss with sauce until thoroughly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.