Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Halibut in Tomato Fennel Stew

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes! Organically grown, big, ripe and juicy - how can one resist?
I must have been channeling Sher at What Did You Eat?, when I thought of this dish. She posted a divine looking Black Cod in Tomato-Fennel and Saffron Stew that I'm sure had a subliminal effect on me when I purchased the fresh, organic tomatoes, fennel, sweet corn and line-caught halibut fillets to make into a delicate yet rustic stew. This was a combination of sweet, savory, mellow, and spicy, with just a a bit of crunch from the toasted almonds; the fish melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Simple to prepare, warming yet light, it satisfies a hungry tummy.

1 medium bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted then ground in a mortar
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads (I got mine from Peet's)
5 large, organically grown, red tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 ears fresh, sweet corn, cut from the cob
Kosher salt and fresh, ground black pepper
2 medium size halibut fillets, cut into 4x4-inch pieces
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Place the fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toast, stirring them constantly, until they become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and allow to cool then grind in a mortar and pestle to a coarse powder.
Cut the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom and then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.
Adding the oil to the skillet, saute the fennel until it is soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about 1 minute then add the ground fennel, saffron and pepper flakes. Continue to stir about 1 more minute then add the peeled, chopped tomatoes. Add salt to taste and allow to simmer until the stew has thickened, about 15 minutes.
When the stew has reached the consistency you desire, add the corn kernels and stir to distribute then add the halibut fillets, pushing them into the stew gently to cover them with the liquid. Cook gently until the fish is tender but done, about 10 minutes total.

To serve, remove a piece of halibut to a bowl and ladle the stew over and around it. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve with warm, crusty bread.
This stew was perfect for the cooler weather we are experiencing. The fog has been rolling in morning and evening, cooling daytime temperatures and prompting the application of layered clothing and preparation of warming meals.


sher said...

Fog?? Has there ever been fog in the Central Valley? It did snow many years ago. :) That stew looks so good, so soothing. (And perfect with fog.) At least the Delta breeze is here. My cousin from Dallas is here visiting me and she said they were having 105 temps, with humidity! Thanks so much for mentioning me. I love the look of you stew. I think the corn is wonderful!

Kalyn said...

Looks delicious. I can see I must cook some sort of fish with saffron now to get invited to this party.

christine said...

We're so socked in with fog right now that we've got the heater going in the morning and evening. Yuck!
Thank you for your stew. It was my inspiration.

Please do cook fish with saffron. I'd love to see what you come up with!