- 2 cod fillets, skin on, each weighing about 175g, see box, far right
- 1 tsp coarse salt flakes
- 2 red peppers
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 lemon
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 350g very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- handful pitted black olives
- 1 tbsp caper in brine, drained
- small handful each lemon thyme, oregano and basil leaves, with a few smal basil leaves kept aside
- 20 marinated anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
- Neatly trim the cod fillets. Score the skin of each fillet 3-4 times at regular intervals. Lay the fish in a shallow dish and sprinkle both sides of the fillets with the salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Set aside or chill overnight, see box, far right.
- Deseed and finely slice the peppers, then finely grate the garlic and lemon zest over the peppers. Carefully slice the fennel on a mandolin, or as finely as possible with a sharp knife, then tip half the fennel into a bowl of iced water and set aside.
- Brush the salt off the fish or, if it has dissolved, wipe the brine off with kitchen paper. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick pan, cook the fish, skin side down, for 4 mins until the skin is crisp and browned, then remove from the pan.
- Put 1 tbsp more oil into the pan. Fry the fennel and the marinated peppers together for 4-5 mins until soft and starting to brown. Throw in the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar, then continue to cook for 2-3 mins until they soften and release their juices. Scatter over the olives capers and herbs, then toss everything together.
- Nestle the fish fillets, skin side up, among the vegetables, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 mins until the fish is just cooked through. Lift the fish from the pan and give the sauce a final simmer and stir, then turn off the heat. This dish is better served warm rather than hot, so don’t worry about the vegetables or fish resting before you serve.
- Drain the reserved fennel and pat dry with kitchen paper. Toss with the juice from half the grated lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil and the anchovies. To serve, spoon the vegetables into the middle of two large dinner plates. Sit the cod, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and top with a neat bundle of fennel salad. Drizzle everything with a touch more oil, then scatter with the small basil leaves.