Roasted Salmon with Fennel Pollen and Caramelized Fennel with Buttered Fennel Seeds
(2-pound) salmon fillet
coarsely ground black pepper
loosely packed, roughly chopped fennel fronds
fennel bulb, about 12 ounces
kosher salt, or more to taste
Fennel and fish get on so famously we might as well give them a celebrity portmanteau à la Brangelina or Kimye. Every part of fennel pairs particularly well with mild, fatty fish like salmon.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Positions a rack in the upper third of the oven.
- Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil on the bottom of 9x12 baking dish. Place the salmon fillet, skin side down, in the dish and rub the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil all over the flesh. Combine the salt, pepper, and fennel pollen and rub the mixture all over the flesh of the salmon. Roast until the thickest part registers 145°F, about 30 minutes.
- While the salmon is roasting, halve the fennel bulb lengthwise and trim away the core, reserving about 1/2 cup of the fronds. Cut each half lengthwise again into 3/4-inch wedges. Cut any stalks attached to it crosswise into about 3/4 cups worth of 1/3-inch coins, keeping the rest for other uses. Coat the bulb and stalks thoroughly with the salt and oil.
- Heat a large (14- to 16-inch) frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, spread the fennel pieces to cover the bottom and cook, undisturbed, until the pieces are caramelized on one side. Stir and repeat the process until the fennel pieces are browned on all sides and softened yet still hold their shape, about 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt as needed. Transfer them to a serving plate.
- Working quickly, combine the butter with the fennel seeds in a small skillet and put it on medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter turns light brown and the seeds sizzle, about 2-3 minutes. Drizzle the contents of the pan over the fennel. Tear the reserved fronds into small sprigs and sprinkle them on top.
- Serve the salmon along with the caramelized fennel.
Leela Punyaratabandhu is the author of Simple Thai Food and winner of the Art of Eating Prize, Bangkok. Epicurious has named her one of the 100 greatest home cooks of all time.