Cedar-grilled rouget fennel and mushroom filling, lemon vinaigrette

Credit: Thomas Schauer

This is a sensual dish that evokes the romance of the south of France. In the summertime, I picture playing pétanque with my buddies, sipping Ricard on the Côte d’Azur—dreaming of the fennel, licorice, and anise flavors I love. But this dish is also an homage to one of my mentors, Roger Vergé, and my time as a young chef at his restaurant Moulin de Mougins, where I cooked many red mullet, known as rouget.

Rouget is one of the most delicate, prized and appreciated fish of the Mediterranean, often grilled or used in bouillabaisse. The idea here is to stuff it with fennel, mushroom, and lemon, and to accentuate the flavor with lemon zest, fennel pollen, and Espelette pepper. Cooking it with the cedar sheets has two benefits: it helps hold the stuffed fillets together and gives a wonderful oaky flavor while grilling.

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Step 1: Filling

Pick 1/4 cup of the fennel fronds for salad. Discard stalks. With a mandoline, thinly slice 12 ounces (360 g) of the fennel bulb and set aside. Slice the baby fennel lengthwise on the mandoline and keep in ice water.

In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the olive oil. Add the sliced fennel bulb and garlic, the fennel pollen and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the fennel is tender. Add the Pernod and flambé. Transfer to a bowl.

If you can't find fennel pollen, you may substitute toasted and finely ground fennel seed.

This recipe was originally published in "My Best Daniel Boulud" (Éditions Alain Ducasse). See all credits

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