I have a sneaky suspicion that January is everyone’s Least Fun Eating Month of All Time. (That’s short for “Least Fun Eating Month of All Time, Seriously, Where Did All the Delicious Go.”)
It doesn’t have to be this way, though! Let’s look to our Instagram feeds for proof. I guarantee at least one gorgeous shot of satsumas. If inspiration strikes and you bring home a bag of such … darling produce, your January is already looking mighty fine, my friend.
Which brings me to this week’s bonus point for your dinner game.
It was brought to you by sheer perseverance: two recipes conceived and attempted, with two Whole Foods trips for the second one. That’s what happens when you have faith in something, and I happen to believe in: (1) crispy skin on tender, flaky fish, (2) seasonal citrus love in the form of pink, extra-fruity Cara Cara oranges, (3) crunchy, distinct–and distinguished–fennel, (4) eating well in the middle of winter, (5) taking every opportunity to hone my power-napping talents, and (6) this gif right here:
You know. Just a few life-improving things.
I’m trying to think of the last time I made a salad with actual leaves in it and coming up empty. Leafy greens (although some are in season) just don’t have the same appeal as a crunchy, substantial vegetable in shaved form. Plus, staying power! You are too excellent to be eating wilted salad. Truly.
Cara Cara oranges look a little grapefruit-like, with their juicy coral flesh and all. But really, they’re just a more fragrant, interesting orange if you’re into that–sort of like what Meyer lemons are to regular lemons. Both are good. Cara Caras are a treat.
Black sea bass is also a treat, and now an ocean-friendly option too (as long as it’s trap-caught). Crisp that sustainable skin!
A pat of butter goes into the pan to baste the fish as it finishes cooking. It’s a touch of rich luxury, and a perfect counterpoint to the bed of crisp, bright, tangy pile of freshness upon which you’re going to rest your butter-bathed fish like a crown jewel. Or something.
So flaky, so good. January on, everyone. January on.
- 2 oranges (any variety)
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
- 2 6-ounce skin-on sea bass fillets
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Supreme the orange, reserving the juice. Thinly slice the fennel bulb using a mandoline or a sharp knife and toss with the orange segments, reserved juice, parsley, shallot, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the champagne vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Sprinkle the ground fennel over the flesh sides of the fillets. Season with salt and pepper. You can keep the fillets whole or cut them down the middle, which I did because: (a) there's more surface area to season, (b) it looks better in a photograph, and (c) it's easier to cook.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add the fish, skin side down, and cook without disturbing it until browned on the bottom (about 3 minutes).
- Flip and add the butter to the pan; continue cooking for a couple minutes more, spooning the butter over the fish to baste. Remove from pan and serve atop orange-fennel mixture. Top with additional parsley, if you’d like.