Striped Bass with Braised Fennel

This recipe will serve 6-8 people. Prepare Tomato-Fennel Sauce in advance. You will need one piece of boneless (skin-on) Striped Bass per serving.

Cut up 2 fennel bulbs: trim root end slightly, cut off stems. With root sitting on cutting board, cut vertically to split the bulb in two. With cut side of bulb facing the cutting board, make 1/2-inch-thick slices by cutting in the same direction the plant grows. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet. When very hot, add a layer of fennel to pan and let brown on both sides. Remove from pan and work in batches until done. Put fennel in another skillet large enough to hold it all. All 1 to 11/2 cups of chicken stock. Cover skillet with lid.

When it’s time to cook dinner, preheat oven to 400 F and warm up the sauce. Heat the covered skillet containing the fennel to a simmer; let braise until tender but not overcooked while you proceed to cook the fish. Oil and heat a heavy oven-proof skillet or griddle on a high heat. When oil is smoking, place fish in pan, skin side down. Depending on thickness of fillets, cook 3-5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven until fish is done cooking, probably another 3-5 minutes.

To serve, ladle 1/2 cup sauce into bottom of bowl. Add a layer of braised fennel. Place fish on top of fennel and garnish with chopped parsley or basil. Serve with bread to mop up the sauce.

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