Mark Bittman published a simple guide to cooking fish in a variety of ways. While I’ve used cod in this recipe, he notes specifically that you can use “cod, catfish, sea bass, halibut, grouper, tilefish, haddock, some form of snapper” and that the recipes should be largely unchanged regardless of the fish.

Of all the preparations I find the poached method to be the most consistent as it doesn’t really vary too much based on the thickness of the fish, or the heat of your gas stove. I’ve modified his recipe slightly and reduced the quantity of fennel and added some garlic and black pepper.

You can see my writeup of one of his other poached fish methods, such as in a Coconut Curry over Zucchini.

  • 8 servings
  • 10 mins
  • 15 mins
  • 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds cod fillet or other flaky white fish
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes

Instructions

  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and fennel bulb and stir while cooking for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
  • Carefully nest the fish on top of the fennel bed, and add the saffron and fennel seed. Cover with the diced tomatoes and enough water to barely cover the tops of the fish fillet (about 12 oz water, in my dutch oven), dust with some salt.
  • Bring the mixture gently to a boil without stirring and then cover tightly and turn off the heat.
  • Let the dutch oven sit, covered for 10 minutes while the fish gently cooks through from the heated broth.
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with the leftover fennel fronds and black pepper.