Red Grouper with Tomato Braised Fennel

I love the produce of summer–for me, the challenge becomes enjoying as much of it as I can while its still in season. While my produce-lust is usually fruit-centric, one of my veggie favorites: fennel. This delicious vegetable has fronds kind of like dill and a bulb that is sweet, subtle, and anisey–the flavor is just quite unique and the perfect foil for fish. Today, we have a Red Grouper served over Fennel braised in a Citrus Tomato Sauce.

I originally went to the grocery store with sea bass in mind, but it seems red grouper was in the cards for me, so red grouper it is! The grouper worked wonderfully, but I still would lean towards a nice white fish next time around (like sea bass, halibut, mahi, etc).

This dish was simple and tasty–the kind of thing that is good for a hot summer day when spending a lot of time in a hot kitchen just isn’t a very appealing notion. You have the sweet, subtle flavor of fennel enhanced with the brightness of orange, a combination that seemed to really reinforce each flavor. The tomato provided a backbone, but the fennel/orange stood on top of it and cut through the fish nicely. I was originally inspired by bass served over a tomato fennel broth.

  • knob of butter
  • olive oil
  • ~1 lb fish filet (I used red grouper, but sea bass, halibut, or mahi would be more appropriate)
  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • ~1/4 cup acidic white wine
  • 1/8-1/4 orange juice
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 fennel bulb and some of the fronds
  • orange zest
  • salt
  • pepper

Begin by prepping the veggies: mince the shallot and garlic, julienne the pepper, and separate the fronds from the bulb of the fennel, coarsely chopping the bulb and setting the fronds aside.

In a hot pan, melt some butter and warm up some olive oil. Sauté the fennel bulb, pepper, and shallot for about 8 minutes, after which you should add in the garlic for another minute or two. Deglaze with wine.

At this point, add the orange juice, zest, salt, pepper, and hand-crushed tomatoes into the mix. I also inserted a handful of the fennel fronds to further impart some more fennel goodness in there. Simmer this (covered) for about 10 minutes, letting it simmer for another 5 minutes uncovered to give everybody time to get to know one another and to soften the fennel up.

Meanwhile, ensure your fish is free of any pin bones or any other undesirable things and portioned to your liking. Season it with salt and pepper on all sides and sauté the fish in butter until cooked through, figure somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 minutes (depends on the fish, thickness, etc).

At this point, all that’s left is to plate the dish. I simply made a mound of fennel and stood the fish over it with a bit of orange zest and fennel fronds for garnish. Enjoy!

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21 Responses to “Red Grouper with Tomato Braised Fennel”

  1. Peter Says:

    Mike, the best fish is the freshest fish and FLA has lots of good Grouper.

    I hope you cook more with seafood, you do it justice.

  2. Jan Says:

    That fish looks so yummy! I’ve never had grouper before…..Yes, I need to get out more!

  3. Raquel Says:

    Yum! That looks great. We are growing our own fennel this year, so will have to give this a try!

  4. pam Says:

    Unfortunately, I am growing the wrong type of fennel. Mine doesn’t produce the bulb only the fronds! I had no idea there were different types of fennel!

  5. noble pig Says:

    Fennel is one of my loves…one of my favorite uses for it is in lobster bisque. This looks amazing.

  6. Ivy Says:

    Finocchio goes well with fish dishes. Lovely recipe.

  7. grace Says:

    mmm…tomato braise. frankly, i think i’d enjoy tomato braised grass. this is a great meal!

  8. Helen Says:

    Mmm, I love fennel too. I love it when you get a really bushy one with loads of fronds on it – they are beautiful.

  9. Fearless Kitchen Says:

    Fennel is one of my favorite flavors. I bet it went wonderfully with the tomatoes and fish!

  10. Sarah Says:

    Mike,
    Believe it or not, I have never had fennel, but it has been on my to-try list for quite a while now. I’m currently collecting fennel recipes, and I will now add yours to the collection. Thanks!

  11. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    It’s only in the past few years that I’ve been learning to love fennel, and braising or roasting it brings out a sweetness that seems to marry so well with fish. I combine the two in cioppino — an idea I got from Giada DiLaurentiis’ first book.

  12. heather Says:

    ooooh fennel. i looooove fennel. i think i could eat just fennel for quite awhile and be happy :) tomato braising sounds delicious! i haven’t had grouper before either. I here it’s a FL thing, maybe? My husband and I are headed to Key Largo in August… I will have to try it there…when I get sick of key lime pie 😉

  13. Jude Says:

    Very nice seasonal recipe. Haven’t had fennel as much as I should but since I always have some tomatoes on hand…

  14. Zenchef Says:

    Yum, mediterranean flavors. I love it! Perfect for the weather. Nicely done!

  15. White On Rice Couple Says:

    Definitely, this dish is an ode to summer! We’ve never braised our fennel with tomatoes before, we’ll surely try it.
    Fennel had an amazing sweetness that we are so addicted to. The only problem for us with it is that it can get kinda pricey, especially when we like to eat at least 2 each!

  16. Jeff Says:

    Braised fennel :bowdown:

    Another awesome dish Mike and another awesome use for fennel.

  17. Marie Says:

    That looks perfectly appealing to me!!

  18. kittie Says:

    I’m not a big fan of fennel – but a little of it sets off fish dishes beautifully! I’ve never tried grouper either!

  19. Hélène Says:

    You said simple but it looks fantastic. I like all the flavors that you are mixing together.

  20. Coffee and Vanilla Says:

    Very interesting recipe Mike… love sound of fennel and tomato… have a good day, Margot

  21. Veal Shoulder Steak with Port Fennel Mushroom Sauce from Mike's Table Says:

    […] day when you want something hearty to warm you up from the inside out. First, a fennel bulb (a fun vegetable to work with) is caramelized and braised with mushrooms to make a delicious side dish and leave a strongly […]

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