Baked Gurnard with Fennel Puree

I may not look it, but I am deliciously tasty!

I may not look it, but I am deliciously tasty!

Yum, yum, yum!  This one was good, and more than made up for yesterdays experience with the chilled ratatouille.  Again, it is a really simple recipe.  Fresh flavours, light and really enjoyable (even for my husband who says he ‘is not a seafood person’).  This one will definitely be making another appearance on the menu at home.

Gurnard is locally available in Australia, however if your find it hard to track down (or you just leave it until the last minute like I did) you can substitute with Rockling (Pink Ling, Ling), Flathead tails, Monkfish or John Dory.  What you are looking for is a firm fleshed white fish that wont break up while cooking.  If you can try to buy local fish.  While frozen and thawed may be convenient, it doesn’t taste the same and when we have such great fresh seafood available in Australia, why not make the most of it?

Okay, so obviously night 6 of being up until the wee small hours watching the Tour de France is beginning to get to me just a little.  You might notice as we work through the recipe that I have gone about it a bit differently to Gabriel Gaté on the Taste de Tour segment.  I actually forgot about following the recipe in between dealing with toddler tantrums and just started doing my own thing.  However, it all worked out and I don’t think the result was compromised.  Check out the recipe below and give it a go at home!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 small bulbs of baby fennel, each cut into 4 wedges (i just used half of a regular fennel  bulb)
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tbsp pernod
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) dry white wine
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 350 g (12 oz) gurnard fillets (I used Rockling)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

How to do it (or how I did it, anyway)

Preheat your oven to 140 degrees celsius and then once again, we start with some chopping.  I am beginning to think that by the end of this I am going to have a pretty decent chopping arm!  Dice the shallot and finely chop the garlic, chop the frilly head and stalks off the fennel and cut the bulb in half top to bottom.  Reserve one half for something else (I’ll post a recipe when I think of something else to do with my own left over half) and cut the remaining half into four wedges.  Then I diced up my tomatoes and finally, on a roll and unable to stop the chopping juggernaut, I also finely chopped up my parsley and thyme (Gabriel recommends leaving these as whole sprigs – whoops!).

Love the aroma of shallot and thyme in a hot skillet...

Love the aroma of shallot and thyme in a hot skillet…

On the stove top, heat up some of the olive oil in an oven proof skillet or heavy based roasting tray and fry off the shallot and garlic for a minute or two.  Here I went my own way again and threw in the chopped thyme and parsley, and then the fennel wedges (Gabriel recommends the fennel first, then the herbs probably because the fennel needs a longer cooking time and you don’t want to burn the herbs – so do it his way). …………………………………………………………………….

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All the yummy things...

All the yummy things…

Whichever order you do it in, you’ll need to cook the fennel for 2-3 minutes and then add the white wine and pernod (although I left the pernod out as I did not have it on hand) and let it come up to the bubble.  Then add a pinch of saffron and the chopped tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, stir and simmer gently for 10 minutes or so until the fennel softens. ……………………………………………………………………

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Something fishy going on here?

Something fishy going on here?

When the fennel is soft, place your raw fish fillets in the pan on top of the fennel/tomato mix.  Drizzle the fish with the remaining olive oil and place on the oven for 5-6 minutes only depending on the thickness of your fish fillets.  Take the skillet out of the oven and put the fish fillets on a plate and cover with foil. You only want the fish almost cooked as it will finish cooking under the foil while you whip up the puree and sauce.

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Bzzz...Bzzz...

Bzzz…Bzzz…

Once the fish is removed from the pan, take out the fennel and place in a small bowl so you can puree with a stick blender (or you can use a food processor etc.).  Puree the fennel and set aside while you strain the remaining tomato mixture into a bowl.  To do this, I just pushed the mixture through a sieve.

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I may not look it, but I am deliciously tasty!

I may not look it, but I am deliciously tasty!

Now all you need to do is get it on the plate.  Place some puree on each plate.  On top of the puree place a fish fillet and then finish with the sauce and a sprinkle of chopped parsley, and you are done.  Not the most beautiful dish that I have seen, but looks can be deceiving.  All you have to do now is sit back and enjoy with a nice crisp glass of white. Yum.

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