Soundtrack: David Chang’s Ugly Delicious – Episode 3: Home Cooking
I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Braised Halibut with Fennel and Tomato
Star Rating: Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Last week I got my first delivery from Imperfect Produce. They send you a box of ugly but tasty fruit and veg at a much reduced price. It helps reduce food waste by finding a home for the misshapen, scarred, irregular, discoloured, or overstocked – but perfectly good – produce that may otherwise be thrown out.
What I didn’t think about when scheduling my first delivery was that I had a very busy social week and would be out of town for a night, meaning I was unlikely to have much of a chance to cook. Understanding the irony of producing food waste as a result of trying to reduce food waste, I was committed to using all the contents of the box (apples, oranges, onion, sweet potato, beetroot, fennel, tomatoes, carrots, and avocados for reference) and so far have made some delicious roast veggies and upped my fruit intake.
What was leftover was the fennel bulb and some tomatoes that were starting to show early signs of ageing. After a weekend where I’d maybe overcompensated for running a half marathon with the liberal consumption of carbs, I was also in the mood for something light.
Enter Google. I searched for ‘fish fennel recipe’ and landed on this braised fish dish from Martha Stewart.
Simply put, just go and make this dish. It’s so simple. You simmer down the fennel and tomatoes in the braising liquid for 12-15 minutes before adding the halibut which cooks at a gentle bubble until the flesh is opaque. I substituted the white wine by adding a touch more water and some apple cider vinegar to give it acidity. The recipe says you should just serve the fish with a spoonful of the braising liquid, discarding the vegetables, but I love fennel and didn’t want to waste all that deliciousness.
Instead I put a handful of baby spinach in the bottom of a bowl, placed the halibut fillets on top and then poured over all the braising ingredients. The halibut was cooked perfectly, the lemon and vinegar gave it a clean kick, and the fennel added a brightness and texture that made the whole dish moreish.
If you want to make something that looks far more impressive than the effort required, this is your dish. I’ll be adding it to my rotation for nights I want something healthy, but I don’t want to work too hard for it.