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Whole Vermillion Snapper #VigiliaDiNatale #FishFridayFoodies



This month, the Fish Friday Foodies, with Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, is serving up a virtual La Vigilia which is short for La Vigilia di Natale. You can read more about that in my round-up I'm sharing for the event at the end of the week. But this is what I am offering as my third (meaty fish) course.

I love serving - and being served - a whole fish. Head, tail, fins, eyeballs, and all. Case in point...




We recently went to one of my favorite restaurants for our company holiday dinner and Pia and I both honed in on the whole fish option! This was a black cod flash fried with fennel, caper, and all sorts of deliciousness going on. Some of our co-workers asked us to kindly face its eyes away from them. Ha. Fine.


Like Chef Brad Briske of HOME Soquel, I added layers of flavor in this roasted fish, including earthy fennel and bright citrus. But my whole fish is baked, not fried.

Ingredients serves 3 to 4

  • 2 whole vermillion snapper, approximately 1-1/2 pounds each, scaled and gutted
  • 4 blood oranges, 2 thinly sliced + 2 supremed
  • juice from 1 blood orange
  • 1 fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced  (approximately 1-1/2 C, divided)
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
  • 4 T olive oil + more for salad
  • 1 t fennel pollen, divided
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure

In a mixing bowl, toss together onions and 1 C sliced fennel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay out the whole fish on silicone mat or parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt, pepper, and 1/2 t fennel pollen. Stuff the cavity with the onion-fennel mixture and blood orange slices.

Lay more of the fennel-onion on top and cover with a slice or two of blood orange. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. The fish is done with the flesh in the thickest part has turned opaque. While the fish cooks, mix remaining 1/2 C sliced fennel with blood orange juice and a splash of olive oil. Toss to coat and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

To serve, move whole fish to a platter. Add fennel salad to the sides and top with supremed blood orange segments. Serve immediately.

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