Here's a sweet, fragrant, soupy dish. Ask your fishmonger to cut the fish into cutlets so that the bone is retained – it will add more flavour. Look for Red Emperor, a succulent, flavoursome fish with firm white flesh and large flakes, or use Bream or Redthroat Emperor. Serve with toasted rounds of French bread with a bowl of rouille (a spicy saffron flavoured mayonnaise) to the side.
- Prep Time : 15 - 20 minutes
- Cook Time : 20-30 minutes
- Yield : 6
- olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- red Spanish onions - 2, peeled and chopped
- garlic - 1 - 2 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- fennel - 1 large bulb, trimmed at the root and sliced
- fennel seeds - 1 teaspoon
- tinned diced Roma tomatoes - 400g tin
- bouquet garni - fresh bay leaf, parsley sprig, thyme sprig and rosemary sprig tied together
- Red Emperor (or red throat emperor or bream) - 1.25kg cutlets, skin on
- fish stock or water - approx 750ml
- saffron threads - a generous pinch, soaked in a little hot water for 10 minutes
- orange - 1, zest only
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sweat the onions and garlic in the oil in a medium heavy casserole. When soft, stir through the fennel seeds and cook for another minute, stirring to combine. Add the fennel (cut large slices into halves). Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and bouquet garni.
Lay the fish over the top of the tomatoes and pour in the fish stock or water. Add the saffron (with the soaking water), orange zest and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to simmering point and simmer very gently, partially covered, until fish is cooked, 20 – 30 minutes – be careful not to overcook the fish.