A whole roasted fish not only makes a dramatic presentation — it’s also particularly flavorful because it is roasted on the bone. Fennel lends a sweet, anise-like flavor to this deceptively simple dish, ideal for entertaining or a weeknight main course.
Roasted Fish Stuffed with Fennel & Fresh Herbs
2 fennel bulbs, fronds reserved, bulbs thinly sliced crosswise, preferably with a mandoline
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 sea bass, 1 1/2 to 2 lb. (750 g. to 1 kg.) each, cleaned
Olive oil for drizzling and serving
Lemon wedges for serving
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
Coarsely chop the fennel fronds and measure about 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g.). In a bowl, toss together the sliced fennel, half of the chopped fronds and thyme. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and mix well.
Make 3 diagonal slices about 1/2 inch (12 mm) deep on each side of fish. Season each side with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavities with the fennel mixture and secure with toothpicks. Scatter the remaining fennel fronds on a sturdy baking sheet, place the fish on top and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the fish until the flesh flakes easily when lightly pressed, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter along with juices from the pan. Discard the fronds on the baking sheet. Remove the toothpicks. Serve right away, passing the olive oil and lemon wedges at the table. Serves 6.