Scarpetta's Black Cod with Caramelized Fennel and Concentrated Tomatoes

From 'Chef's Table'

VIDEO: Scarpetta chef Scott Conant creates a fennel-fantastic baked fish.
Difficulty: Moderate
Cook Time: min


  • 12 whole baby fennel, trimmed or 2 regular size fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into sixths
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 halves Concentrated Tomatoes (see recipe that follows)
  • Four 6-ounce pieces of skinless black cod fillet
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Sea salt
  • For concentrated tomatoes :
  • 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, halved and gently seeded
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking Directions

    For concentrated tomatoes: At least five hours ahead and up to five days ahead before, heat the oven to 300° F. Toss the tomatoes with enough olive oil to coat them liberally (about 1/4 cup) and lay them cut side down on a sided baking sheet. Sprinkle the oregano, rosemary, and sugar over them and season lightly with salt and pepper.

    Cook the tomatoes until they are quite concentrated with a very deep red color; this will take 3 1/2 to 4 hours. You are not trying to dry the tomatoes completely; they should look quite dry on the outside but should retain some moisture within. Cool at room temperature, peel away the loose skins, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

    Makes about 20 halves.

    Prepare the vegetables at least an hour ahead and up to a day ahead: Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the fennel in a small ovenproof pan and season lightly with salt. Add 3 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water to the pan, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and roast until just tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the cover and roast for another 20 minutes to brown the fennel well. The fennel can be roasted ahead of time and kept at room temperature for a couple hours; it can also be refrigerated for a day or two.

    Heat a saute pan over medium-low heat and lightly coat the bottom of the pan with a little olive oil. Add to the pan tomato halves and roasted fennel and heat through.

    Sear the fish: Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Season the fish with salt and pepper and, when the oil is very hot, add the fish to the pan with its better looking side face down. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fish over, over, and add 1 sprig of rosemary to the pan to infuse the oil with its flavor. Cook another minute or two longer on the second side until it's golden brown and the fish pulls away easily from the pan.

    To serve: Divide the vegetables among four warm plates piling them in the middle. Place a piece of fillet on top with its better side facing up. If there is any oil left in the pan, drizzle it over the fish. Sprinkle the parsley and a little sea salt over the fish and serve immediately.

    Recipe Summary

    Main Ingredients: fennel, black cod, concentrated tomatoes, rosemary,

    Course: Dinner, Brunch, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish

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