yield: 6 portions
1 bulb garlic
6 red mullet, fillets only, skin on
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and quartered
4-5 large sweet onions
1⁄4 C. dry white wine
Chives,reserved fennel fronds
- Brush garlic with oil and place on a pan in a pre-heated oven (350F) for about 30 min., till soft, browning, and oozing. While warm, squeeze out flesh of garlic and reserve.
- If using mortar and pestle, grind garlic cloves with pestle. Add olive oil a little at a time until you have consistency of moist paste. The oil should all be absorbed. If using a hand mixer, purée the garlic in the mixing tumbler, then add olive oil with as little mixing as possible to avoid developing bitterness.
- For the red mullet, rub flesh-side with garlic paste, and place skin-side up on oiled cookie sheet or baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and place under broiler in preheated oven at 400 F for about 5 minutes, till skin is crispy and fish just cooked through.
- For the fennel confit, place quarters in bottom of wide saucepan in a single layer, cover half way with cold water, and bring to simmer. Add 1 t. salt. Flip after 15 minutes simmering, and continue another 10, lid off. All liquid should be evaporated, so watch closely to avoid burning, adding a bit of water if necessary. Fennel will be tender at this point.
- To finish, sprinkle liberally with olive oil and optional drizzle of honey, then sauté over medium high heat to brown all sides (ideally in non-stick pan.) If you want enhanced licorice flavor, add 2 T. aniseed liqueur or the chopped fennel fronds in the last minute of cooking. Or simmer a piece of star anise alongside for the entire length of cooking.
- Peel and thinly slice 3 sweet white onions (red will make a nasty grey colour when cooked. If you only have red onions, try to finish the cooking with red Porto instead of white wine) Heat medium pot, coat generously with olive oil, and cook over medium heat, stirring, covered, about 30 minutes, with 1 bay leaf and 2 sprigs thyme.
- After onions are completely soft and reduced in volume, simmer with lid off a few minutes to evaporate extra water. If intended with red meats or oily fish, feel free to brown the onions, and add honey or sugar for increased caramelisation.
- For poultry or delicate fish, keep onions from browning. Add 1/4 dry white wine and simmer 5 minutes till evaporated, or simply add 2 T. lemon. Salt lightly and plate in a cylinder to give a little mound for your fish to lean against. Sprinkle with fresh chive and olive oil.