In this recipe the fish is first pan-fried to give lovely crispy skin and then the cooking is finished in the oven ensuring that the fillets are cooked through. It's best to infuse the fish stock with saffron the night before and you could also braise the fennel the day before if you want.
- 150 ml fish stock
- 1 pinch saffron threads (about 8)
- 1 tsp baby capers
- 1 tsp finely-diced tomato
- 10 olives, pitted
- 10 whole seedless grapes, peeled
- 10 g unsalted butter
- 2 bulbs baby fennel, cut into quarters lengthways
- 30 ml olive oil
- 100 ml orange juice
- 150 ml chicken stock (approximately)
- 350–400 g blue eye (trevalla), skin on, cut into 2 portions
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Infusing time: overnight
To make the sauce, bring the fish stock to the boil, add the saffron and remove from heat. Stand in the fridge overnight to infuse.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. To make the fennel, put the fennel, oil and orange juice in a small ovenproof baking dish, and top up with chicken stock so that the liquid covers the fennel. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for about 35–40 minutes until tender.
Heat the saffron-infused stock in a small saucepan. Add the capers, tomato, olives and grapes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Season to taste and keep in a warm spot.
To cook the fish, pat the fish dry with absorbent paper, and season with sea salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then place the fish in the pan skin side down, and cook on high heat for 1–2 minutes. Reduce heat and continue to cook fish skin side down for another 3-4 minutes. Turn fish over and place whole pan in a moderate oven for another 2-3 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
In the oven, gently warm the baby fennel in the braising liquid.
To serve, put braised fennel in the centre of each plate, with the fish on top. Spoon the saffron glaze over the top, sharing the grapes, olives and capers evenly between the two plates.