¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little oil for drizzling
8 6-ounce pieces snapper ﬁllet
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lightly toasted and ground fennel seeds
1 cup Niçoise olives, pitted
¼ cup dry white wine
1 ¾ pounds ripe but ﬁrm tomatoes, seeded and cut into ⅜-inch dice
½ cup lightly packed torn fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in each of 2 baking dishes, each large enough to hold 4 pieces of ﬁsh with space in between. Put the dishes in the oven to heat the oil but don’t let it get to the smoking point.
- With a sharp utility or boning knife, make a few shallow slices through the skin of each snapper ﬁllet to keep them from curling in the hot oil. Season each piece on both sides with salt, pepper, and fennel. Place the ﬁsh in the hot oil, skin side down, to coat with the oil, then immediately turn with a ﬁsh spatula so that the skin side is up. The oil is the correct temperature if you hear a light sizzle when the ﬁsh is added. Divide the olives between the dishes, scattering them around the ﬁsh, then splash equal amounts of wine into each dish.
- Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the ﬁsh is slightly ﬁrm and start to ﬂake when the tip of a knife is inserted into the ﬂesh. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the ﬁllets. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, then divide them between the baking dishes, making sure they fall between the pieces of ﬁsh and into the hot pan juices. The tomatoes just need to get slightly wilted in the hot pans.
Chef David Shalleck