Think of this as jazzed-up fish and chips and you will get a very good idea of the kind of flavours to expect. Roast potatoes in any way and they will be delicious, roast a fennel bulb and it will also be delicious, roast a piece of cod… you get the idea.
There’s a lot going on here, lots of flavours and lots of lovely scents. Tying it all together and adding the sharp tang of vinegar is the salsa. It turns what is already a delicious meal into… um, what is more delicious than delicious?
Just try it, you’ll soon find out; it’s so simple to make and though it takes a little time in the oven the preparation is minimal.
One other thing: my wife commented that the fennel and potatoes are so delicious on their own with the salsa that you don’t actually need the fish to complete the dish. This makes it an ideal tummy-filler for vegans and non-fish eating vegetarians, without cheating anybody of flavour.
RECIPE – feeds 2
300g new potatoes, or floury potatoes like Roosters, cut into 5mm slices
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced, retain the fronds
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cod fillets or loins (or similar firm white fish)
another 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 banana shallot, finely sliced
another 2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
a handful of basil leaves, shredded, set aside a couple of small sprigs
a small handful of pitted black olives, quartered
Preheat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan /Gas 6. Slice the potatoes, use a mandolin if you have one, it will make the job much faster and more precise.
On a large baking tray, scatter the potatoes, fennel bulbs, wedges of tomatoes and fennel seeds. Season with a decent pinch of sea salt, then drizzle all over with olive oil and toss it all together, using your hands, ensuring that everything is coated and the fennel seeds are distributed evenly. Spread out into a single layer on the baking tray, otherwise the potatoes are more likely to steam than roast and they won’t be as good as they can be.
Roast for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and just about cooked through.
Meanwhile, make the salsa: combine the shallot and vinegar in a bowl and set aside while you chop the tomatoes; then add the tomatoes, basil and olives. Combine well, season lightly and set aside for now.
Remove the tray from the oven, place the fish on top, season the fish lightly and scatter the crushed fennel seeds over them, drizzle with a little olive oil and return to the oven for 7-9 minutes until just cooked through.
Pour the salsa evenly over the hot fish and potatoes, scatter the fennel fronds and reserved sprigs of basil and serve. All this needs by way of accompaniment is a pile of rocket leaves.