On the rare occasion that Susannah and I find ourselves in the same country and in the same kitchen, true to Taylor-family form, we spend breakfast talking about what to eat for lunch and spend lunch discussing what we'll have for dinner. Cooking together has become part stage, and part classroom for each of us, an opportunity to show off but also to see what dishes the other has come to love. Our palettes were trained on the same food for much of our lives, but our takes are different--let's just say I tend more towards "buckwheat" and she towards "butter". From time to time, each of us produces a dish that could just have easily sprung from the other's brain.
A few weeks ago Sus did just that with this incredibly simple fish dish. It combines many of my favorite flavors in a single roasting pan--lemon, olives, fennel, peppers-- and it only takes about 15 minutes to cook. For those of you who are intimidated by cooking fish, which can seem complicated, this is a great way to test the waters. This time I can't feign boredom and must give credit where credit is due. Sister fish is delicious.
One 1.5 pound very fresh cod filet (or four small filets)
1/2 bulb of fennel
1/2 a red onion
4 cloves garlic
1 small red or orange bell pepper
1/2 a cup good green olives
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, carefully juilenne the fennel, peppers and onion. Place them in the bottom of a roasting pan.
Add the peeled garlic cloves and olives to the pan along with a glug of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables well until they are somewhat evenly mixed and coated, and make a thick layer in the bottom of the pan.
Again, using the mandoline or a knife, slice enough paper-thin rounds of lemon to form a single layer over the vegetables.
Place the fish filet(s) in a single layer on top of the lemons. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Salt and pepper the fish, place in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. It should flake easily away when prodded with a fork but should still be moist. The vegetables should be soft and starting to let their juices into the bottom of the pan.
Using a metal spatula, divide the filet into four even pieces. Distribute the vegetables evenly among the four plates and top each with a piece of fish. Add a bit more salt and pepper to taste and serve with a wedge of fresh lemon.