1 fennel bulb
2 tbls butter or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 red snapper fillet, about 8 ounces
Additional extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the stalks and frilly leaves off the fennel bulb, quarter the bulb, and cut out the tough core. Thinly slice the quarters. Heat the butter or oil in a saucepan, add the sliced fennel, a couple pinches of salt, and freshly ground pepper, and stir well to coat with the fat. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and let the fennel simmer gently for 12 to 15 minutes. Check the fennel: it should feel good and tender when poked with a fork. Scrape the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. If the sauce seems too stiff, add a touch of water or olive oil and process again to blend. Taste the sauce and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Set aside to serve warm (or allow to cool for storage if using later).
Rinse the fish fillet(s) under cold water, gently pat dry with a paper towel, and lay on a plate or platter. Drizzle or brush both sides of the fish with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a thin coat of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until a haze begins to form over the pan, then lay in the fillet(s) skin-side up (if multiplying the recipe, lay in only as many fillets as the pan can comfortably accommodate). Cook for about 1 minute, then gently turn the fillet(s) over with a spatula, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan. Cook 4 to 6 minutes longer. To test for doneness, insert a knife between the fattest flakes of the meat: it should appear uniformly white and opaque throughout. Remove the fillet(s) to a serving platter or plate. Dress with fennel sauce and an extra swirl of olive oil and serve.
Recipe courtesy "In Late Winter We Ate Pears," written by Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber, published by Chelsea Green Publishers, 2002 & 2009.
1 fennel bulb