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Playing Fish in Crazy Water with Fennel


  • 1 28- to 32-ounce can Italian San Marzano tomatoes or 1 1/2 to 2 pounds ripe tomatoes in season, chopped
  • About 3 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 3 turns of the pan, plus a drizzle for the bread
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced plus 1 clove, halved
  • 1 small bulb fennel, cored and quartered then very thinly sliced (about a cup)
  • 1 small onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake or 1 small Fresno chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 6- to 8-ounce snapper filets
  • 4 slices peasant-style crusty bread, charred or broiled


Serves: 4


Place tomatoes in a wide pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add EVOO, 3 turns of pan, garlic, fennel and onion, scattering the veggies around the pan in a thin layer. Add chili, parsley, salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cover. Simmer 45 minutes, uncover and reduce by half, 10-15 minutes. Add fish, skin-side up, and cook 2-3 minutes. Flip, season fish with salt and pepper, and cook 5 minutes more.

Rub charred bread with garlic, drizzle with EVOO and season with sea salt. Place bread in a bowl and top with a piece of fish and some sauce.