This dish is one of my favorite summertime meals. It's full of fresh, seasonal produce like local, heirloom tomatoes and fragrant fennel. Searing fish quickly in a super-hot pan is one of my favorite ways to cook fish since it ensures you get that perfectly crisp skin and tender flesh every single time. Also, this recipe is supremely versatile and adaptable — if you can't get your hands on snapper, feel free to swap in whatever fish looks best at your fishmonger that day.
Technique tip: Cooking fish, skin side down, in a super-hot pan to get that perfectly crisp skin.
Swap option: Feel free to swap in striped bass, salmon, rainbow trout or even shrimp for the snapper here.
For the fish:
Preheat a large skillet over high heat. Season the snapper fillets with salt and pepper.
Once hot the pan is hot, add a touch of vegetable oil. Once it begins to slightly smoke, carefully place the fillets in the pan, skin-side down, pressing immediately with a fish spatula. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side then flip. Let cook for an additional 45 seconds to 1 minute and remove, transferring to a plate.
For the fennel broth:
In a large pot, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 4 hours.
Remove from heat and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, strain and reserve until serving.
For the smoked tomato:1.
Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat.2.
Rub the tomatoes liberally with olive oil. Place on the hot grill and cook, covered, until well-charred. Remove from heat and let cool.3.
Once cool enough to handle, chop the tomatoes and add to a bowl. Mix the tomatoes with the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, toss the grapefruit, fennel, olive oil, lemon juice, chives, fennel pollen and salt and pepper.
To plate, place a large spoonful of the smoked tomato mixture in the middle of a large shallow bowl. Gently rest a snapper fillet on the tomatoes, followed by a nice mound of the shaved fennel salad on top. Pour 4 ounces of the fennel broth in the dish right before serving.