Scott Conant’s Scarpetta just celebrated its third anniversary with a special menu that ran all last week. In case you missed it, the chef shares the recipe for his signature Black Cod with Caramelized Fennel and Concentrated Tomatoes, which he served as part of the birthday meal.
“The Black Cod with Caramelized Fennel and Concentrated Tomatoes has been one of our signature dishes since day one,” says Conant. “In fact, we just celebrated Scarpetta’s third anniversary and offered the cod as part of our special menu, which was our way of saying thank you for all of the love and support everyone has shown us since we opened.”
Black Cod with Caramelized Fennel and Concentrated Tomatoes
For the Concentrated Tomatoes:
Yield: about 30 halves
3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, halved and gently seeded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sugar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
At least five hours ahead and up to five days ahead before, heat the oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with enough olive oil to coat them liberally (about 1/4 cup), and lay them cut side down on a sided baking sheet. Sprinkle the oregano, rosemary, and sugar over them, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Cook the tomatoes until they are quite concentrated with a very deep red color, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. You are not trying to dry the tomatoes completely; they should look quite dry on the outside but should retain some moisture within. Cool at room temperature, peel away the loose skins, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For the Black Cod with Caramelized Fennel:
12 whole baby fennel, trimmed, or 2 regular size fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into sixths
kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6-8 whole fingerling potatoes (about 10 ounces)
8 halves Concentrated Tomatoes
4 6-ounce pieces skinless black cod fillet
1 small sprig rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
sea salt, to garnish
In an oven heated to 350°F, place the fennel in a small ovenproof pan and season lightly with salt. Add 3 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water to the pan, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and roast until just tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the cover and roast for another 20 minutes to brown the fennel well. (The fennel can be roasted ahead of time and kept at room temperature for a couple hours; it can also be refrigerated for a day or two.)
About 20 minutes before serving, put the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with well-salted water. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, cool briefly, and slice lengthwise, between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thick. Over medium-low heat and lightly coat the bottom of a sauté pan with a little olive oil. Add to the pan the tomato halves, roasted fennel, and sliced potatoes, and heat through.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and, when the oil is very hot, add the fish to the pan with its better-looking side face down. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fish over, and add 1 sprig of rosemary to the pan to infuse the oil with its flavor. Cook another minute or two longer on the second side until it’s golden brown and the fish pulls away easily from the pan.
Divide the vegetables among four warm plates, piling them in the middle. Place a piece of fillet on top with its better side facing up. If there is any oil left in the pan, drizzle it over the fish. Sprinkle the parsley and a little sea salt over the fish, and serve immediately.