ROASTED COD WITH CARAMELIZED FENNEL AND FRESH FIGS
For the fish:
4 pounds cod fillet, skin removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine salt or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
For the vegetables
3 large bulbs fresh fennel, trimmed and cut into eighths vertically
4 large red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves, unpeeled
1-2 organic lemons, sliced into very thin rounds, seeds removed
2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
1 tablespoon whole fennel seed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Approximately 1/3 cup fish stock, vegetable stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 basket fresh ripe figs, trimmed and halved vertically
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (can substitute chopped parsley if desired) for garnish
For the fish:
Stir together the olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest and rub it all over the fish. Set aside or refrigerate if not using within two hours.
For the Vegetables:
1. Preheat the oven to 450F
2. Toss the fennel, red onions, garlic cloves, lemon slices, coriander seeds and fennel seeds together with the olive oil in a very large ovenproof skillet or flameproof roasting pan. Two skillets or pans can be used if necessary.
3. Place in the preheated oven and cook, stirring occasionally about 45 minutes and till the vegetables are tender and deeply caramelized,.
4. Remove from oven add the stock or water. Stir in the figs, salt and pepper. RECIPE CAN BE COMPLETED UP TO THIS POINT UP TO 4 HOURS AHEAD. Return to the oven, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until the figs are hot.
5. Remove from oven and cover loosely with foil.
6. Raise the oven temperature as high as it will go (500 or 525 on most ovens). Place a baking sheet in the oven for ten minutes.
7. Place the fish on the hot baking sheet. It will sizzle.
8. Bake until the juices from the fish turn from clear to opaque, 10 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish and the temperature of the oven.
9. Remove from the oven and transfer the fish to a large platter.
10. Reheat the vegetables in the hot oven for five minutes and then place attractively on top of and around the fish. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Note: If you have two ovens you can preheat the second oven and the baking sheet and start cooking the fish just before you add the figs to the vegetable mixture.