Bream with braised fennel

Valentine Warner simmers aromatic fennel in white wine and milk, topped with crisp bream fillets and a pine nut sauce
By Valentine Warner
Bream with braised fennel
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the sauce

  • 5 anchovy fillets, whole
  • handful toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 dried red chilli
  • 5 segments lemons, skin removed
  • 2 fennel tops, finely chopped

For the fennel

  • 2 large heads of fennel, roughly chopped, fennel tops reserved
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 20 g butter
  • splash olive oil
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 100 ml milk

For the bream

  • 2 fillets bream
  • 60 g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for frying


1. For the sauce: fry anchovies in a little olive oil and add a handful of toasted pine nuts. In a separate bowl put the chilli, lemon segments, fennel tops and season with salt and pepper. Toss in the cooled anchovy and pine nut mixture and combine well together. Set aside.

2. For the fennel: sauté the fennel, fennel seeds and garlic in the butter and olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and then add the wine. Simmer very gently, covered with a lid, for 15 minutes until the fennel is nearly tender. Pour in the milk and continue to gently simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens and the fennel is creamy and soft. Keep the fennel warm whilst you cook the fish.

3. For the bream: pat the fish fillets dry with kitchen paper and dip the fish, skin side down, into seasoned flour.

4. Take a frying pan big enough to take both fillets. Allow the pan to get hot before adding a little bit of olive oil.

5. Oil the fish a little and put the fish fillets into pan, flesh-side down they should sizzle immediately. If the fish arches up, put a small plate on top of the fish to hold it down.

6. Cook the fish for a couple of minutes, flip over and cook for a further minute on the other side.

7. To serve: arrange the fennel on a plate, drizzling with a little of the milky sauce. Place a bream fillet on top of the fennel and finish with a line of the pine nut sauce along the length of the fish.

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