Fish fillets in fennel escabeche with lemon scented lentils


For the escabeche
80ml mild olive oil, plus extra for frying (Dunford Grove)
3 baby fennel finely sliced (save the fronds to garnish the dish) (Ettrick Gardens)
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (Ettrick Gardens, Oamaru Organics) 
1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced
1 bay leaf
½tsp sweet paprika
5 white peppercorns
50ml sherry vinegar
Small pinch saffron
15ml honey (Bennie's Honey, Blueskin Bay Honey) 
4 blue cod fillets (about 50g each), pin boned and scaled, skin on

For the lentils

100g Puy or small green lentils
Peel of ½ lemon, pith removed
Good handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
15ml extra virgin olive oil
Zest from ½ a lemon


To prepare the lentils.

  1. Put the lentils and lemon peel in a pan and cover with water.
  2. Bring to a simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Once cooked, drain the lentils into a colander and allow to cool. Discard the peel.

To make the escabeche.

  1. Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat, and add the fennel, carrot, shallot and garlic.
  2. Cook gently while stirring until the onion and carrots start to soften.
  3. Add the bay leaf, paprika, peppercorns, vinegar, saffron, honey and 150ml water then bring to the boil. Turn down to a gentle simmer and season with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.
  4. Heat a small glug of olive oil in a non-stick pan over a medium/high heat.
  5. Season the fish fillets, then fry skin side down until cooked halfway through.
  6. Remove the fillets from the pan and arrange in a single layer, skin side up, in a glass or ceramic dish.
  7. Pour the hot escabeche marinade over the fish and leave at room temperature to cool.
  8. The residual heat will finish cooking the fish.

To serve

  1. Mix the cooked lentils with the chopped parsley, olive oil, lemon zest and a sprinkling of salt and spoon onto a flat serving dish.
  2. Spoon over the escabeche vegetables and some of the juices, then arrange the fish fillets on top.
  3. Serve at room temperature garnished with the reserved fennel fronds.



Escabeche is the name for a number of dishes in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines which can refer to a dish of either poached or fried fish marinated in an acidic mixture before serving; the marinade itself: or a marinated salad of various vegetables. The dish is common in Spain

The origin of the word escabeche is Persian, and was brought to Spain by the Arabs during the Moorish conquests. The word derives from al-sikbaj, the name of a popular meat dish cooked in a sweet and sour sauce, usually vinegar and honey or date molasses.



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