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Pan-seared fish, fennel salad pair up well

Mon., Jan. 10, 2011

Pan searing is a perfect way to cook fish. The outside becomes crisp while the inside remains tender and moist. The result is delicious, and it only takes a few minutes.

The method requires a very hot skillet. Add the fish only when you see smoke rising from the pan.

At an event in Napa Valley, I tasted an unusual coating of fennel seed, coriander seed and cracked black pepper on swordfish. It was just the right combination of flavor and spice.

This fish pairs well with a salad made from fresh fennel. Fennel is a white, bulbous vegetable, sometimes called anise, that has a very slight licorice flavor.

The secret to this salad is to make sure the fennel is sliced paper-thin. This can be done with the thin slicing blade of your food processor. If you do not have a food processor, grate the fennel instead.

Fennel can be found in many supermarkets. If it is unavailable, make any type of green salad.

This meal contains 447 calories, with 32 percent of calories from fat.

Marinated Fennel Salad

1 small fennel bulb (about half-pound), to make 1  1/2 cups

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fennel leaves (from fennel bulb)

2 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove fennel stalks and cut off feathery leaves. Discard stalks, but save leaves.

Very thinly slice fennel bulb in a food processor or grate it by hand. Place in a glass or stainless steel bowl and toss with lemon juice. Let marinate about 10 minutes while you make the fish.

Wash and chop reserved leaves and toss with fennel. Add olive oil and mix well; the oil will just coat the salad, giving it a shiny appearance. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutrition per serving: 62 calories (34 percent from fat), 4.6 grams fat (0.6 gram saturated, 3.3 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 0.8 gram protein, 5.4 grams carbohydrates, 2.1 grams fiber, 34 milligrams sodium.

Pan-Seared Swordfish

1/2 tablespoon fennel seed

1/2 tablespoon coriander seed

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

3/4 pound swordfish steak

1 teaspoon olive oil


1/2 whole-wheat baguette

Crush fennel and coriander seeds in a food processor or in a bowl using the back of a spoon or the end of a rolling pin. Add cracked black pepper.

Rinse swordfish and pat dry with paper towel. Press spice mixture into both sides of fish.

Heat oil in a small skillet over high heat. When the skillet is smoking, add the fish. Brown for 2  1/2 minutes on one side and turn; brown 1 minute and lower heat.

Cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little salt to taste. Divide into 2 portions and serve with sliced baguette and salad.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutrition per serving: 385 calories (26 percent from fat), 11.1 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated, 5.2 grams monounsaturated), 66 milligrams cholesterol, 39.2 grams protein, 31.2 grams carbohydrates, 3.5 grams fiber, 429 milligrams sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks, including “Mix ’n Match Meals in Minutes for People with Diabetes” and “Prevention’s Fit and Fast Meals in Minutes.” Visit her webpage at or e-mail her at

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