Grilled Loup de Mer with Braised Fennel

Grilled Loup de Mer with Braised Fennel
Loup de Mer is the French name for the European sea bass, also called branzino. It is typically farm-raised, so it is available year round in most markets. In this recipe by chef Robert Sisca of Bistro du Midi, Boston, the grilled fish has lovely, crisp skin and is paired with a simple citrus sauce and sliced fennel.

This recipe makes two servings.


  • 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 tablespoon anise seed
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Pinch paprika
  • Skin-on fillets from 1 whole loup de mer (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil

Put the fennel in a medium pot. Cover with the water, Pernod, rosemary, and thyme. Cut a 2-inch piece of peel from one of the lemons and the orange; add the peels to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Place over medium heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the fennel is very tender. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Using a blender or coffee grinder, grind the fennel seed, anise seed, and peppercorns to a fine powder. Set aside.

Using a serrated knife, remove the remaining peel from the orange and lemons. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the segments free from the skin. Mix the citrus segments with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the ground spice mixture, and paprika. Season with salt and set aside.

Splash the brandy on the fish fillets and season with the remaining spice mix. Rub the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the fillets. On a hot grill or grill pan, place the fillets skin-side down. Leave for 3 to 5 minutes, until the skin is crisp. Flip over and finish cooking the fish, about 2 more minutes.

Grill the braised fennel slices on each side until golden, about 2 minutes.
Place the grilled fish and fennel on a plate. Cover with citrus sauce and garnish with chopped basil.