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Roasted Striped Bass With Fennel

fish, main dishes

1 scaled (6-pound) and cleaned stripe; rinsed
-- head
--gills removed and tail on
--3 inches at thickest point
--two 3-pound farm-raised striped b
1/2 cup olive oil; divided
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice; divided
2 tablespoons kosher salt; divided
10 grinds black pepper; (up to 15)
4 large fennel bulbs
--2 1/2 pounds
--with some stalk and fronds remain

1.With large knife, cut 3 parallel diagonal slashes into each side of the fish, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches into the flesh. Rub 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon salt into sides of the fish, including the slits, and into the internal cavities. Grind some pepper into the cavities.

2. Coat an 18- by 13- by 2-inch roasting pan by rubbing about 1/4 cup of the olive oil all over it with your hands. Place fish in pan on a diagonal. Part of the fish head and/or tail may hang over the corners. Let sit 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, trim stalks and fronds from fennel. With large knife, coarsely cut up the stalks. Stuff as many pieces of fennel as will fit into the fish head and body cavities. Reserve fronds. Trim a thin slice from the root end of fennel bulbs to clean , but leave bulbs in one piece. With a vegetable peeler, clean dark areas and coarse string from outside of bulbs. Cut the bulbs lengthwise through leaves and stem ends to make wedges, about 8 to 10 per bulb.

4. Preheat oven to 500 F. Make a layer of fennel wedges around fish. Spoon over them the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and all but a few teaspoons of the remaining lemon juice. Sprinkle the fennel with the remaining tablespoon of salt and the pepper. From time to time, tilt roasting pan to collect some of the juices; spoon over fish and fennel.

5. Place oven rack in center of oven. Bake fish for 35 minutes.

6. Using two very large spatulas, remove fish to serving platter. Either surround fish on platter with fennel and pour pan juices and the remaining lemon juice over all, or place fennel and pan juices in a separate serving bowl (which will make it easier to bone the fish) and pour the remaining lemon juice over fish. Coarsely chop reserved fennel Fronds. Sprinkle on fish and fennel platter or, if using separate serving bowl for fennel, divide evenly between fish and fennel.

Note: If using 2 three-pound bass, put them side by side, head to tail, in a roasting pan. Put another rack in the oven under the rack where the fish will go. Put the fennel in a second, medium-size roasting pan and set it on the lower rack in the oven 10 minutes before starting the fish.

Makes 8 servings. Preparation time: About 20 to 25 minutes. Marinating time: About 1 hour. Cooking time: 35 minutes.

Per serving: About 407 cal, 43 g pro, 12 g car, 22 g fat, 48% cal from fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 2573 mg sod, 0 g fiber.

Reprinted with permission from "Roasting: A Simple Art" by Barbara Kafka (William Morrow and company, 1995).

Busted by Gail Shermeyer <>

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Contributor: Low-Fat Meals, Woman's Day, 4/96

Yield: 8 servings

Preparation Time: 0:00

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