Simple and quick enough to join your repertoire for easy midweek after work suppers, the fennel adds an element of chic for the image-conscious, though it is just as suitably wholesome for families. Perfectly judged in every respect, each flavour is detectable – the anchovies add a salty note to the sweetness of the fennel and onion, a hint of dark earthiness comes from the parsley – but none overwhelms the other. A slightly crunchy brownish topping above the glistening white fish, all moist and flakingly just-cooked tender, gives it a variety of texture.
Serves 4 (429 calories a serving)
1 60g can anchovy fillets
30g butter plus extra for greasing
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
30g parsley, chopped
125g fresh white breadcrumbs
salt and black pepper
4 8oz cod steaks
dill sprigs, lemon wedges, watercress sprigs to garnish
- Drain the anchovy fillets, reserving the oil. Cut the anchovies into small pieces and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and fennel and cook over a medium heat, stirring, for five minutes or until soft but not browned. Remove from the heat, stir in the anchovies, parsley and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
- Put the cod steaks into a buttered ovenproof dish and top each one with the anchovy and fennel mixture, pressing it down firmly with your hand.
- Drizzle a little of the reserved anchovy oil ever each steak. Bake the steak in a preheated oven at 200ºC (180ºC fan, Gas 6) for 10-15 minutes until the cod is opaque and the flesh flakes from the bone.
- Transfer to a warmed serving plate. Garnish the cod steaks with dill sprigs, lemon wedges and watercress sprigs and serve at once.