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SPLASH OF ALOHA Recipe: Roasted Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato

Perhaps you're not a turkey person. Or maybe you've started your Thanksgiving prep a bit late in the game. Whatever the reason you're seeking an alternative to the traditional (enormous) Thanksgiving turkey, we have a great suggestion for you! How about trying some roasted fish? This recipe for Roasted Butterfish (Black Cod) with Fennel and Tomato from A Splash of Aloha is a nice change, suitable for a small gathering, and much less work than wrestling a big bird. The flavor of fennel is appropriate for fall, and—lucky we live Hawai‘i—there are still beautiful, fresh, ripe local tomatoes available at the farmers' markets and in grocery stores. Something else to be thankful for!

Roasted Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato

Recipe by Sharon Kobayashi from A Splash of Aloha
Makes 4 servings                   

Roasted Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato. Recipe by Sharon Kobayashi, photo by Adriana Torres Chong. Roasted Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato. Recipe by Sharon Kobayashi, photo by Adriana Torres Chong.

The key to this restaurant-quality recipe is to use very good, fresh fish; ripe, flavorful tomatoes and a young, fruity, drinkable wine (both for the dish and to serve at the table). Fennel is a vegetable with the texture of celery and an anise-like perfume and is readily available in grocery stores.

  • 1 lb. butterfish (black cod), cut into 2 pieces (8-oz. steaks)
  • 1 fennel bulb, medium, cut into 8 sections (plus 1 T. fronds, minced)
  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes
  • 8 bay leaves, fresh if possible
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ²⁄₃ c. red wine (merlot or shiraz/syrah)

1. Preheat oven to 425°. In a roasting pan (preferably non-stick or foil-lined), arrange cod with fennel, tomatoes, bay leaves and garlic scattered on and about the fish.

2. Use 1 tsp. of the salt to rub into both sides of fish steaks, sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper over everything. Sprinkle the oil evenly over the vegetables.

Roasted Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato (Nutrition Facts) Roasted Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato (Nutrition Facts)

3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or till the liquids evaporate and the fish just begins to brown. Remove fish to a serving plate. Then deglaze the pan: Immediately add the wine to the remaining juices and browned bits, stirring to loosen solids.

4. If mixture does not thicken enough, return to the oven for 5 minutes or till it reaches sauce consistency.

5. Pour mixture over fish and garnish with fennel fronds.

Note: Salmon may be substituted for butterfish.

Sharon Kobayashi, contributing chef author, is the Chef/Owner of Latitude 22, LLC. Her company, doing business as Akamai Foods, specializes in global cuisine with a healthy flair. Their signature product, low-fat oatcakes, can be found in stores throughout Hawai‘i.