Whiting with Fennel

Tender fillets of whiting, lightly fried in butter, then flambced in Pernod, Whiting with Fennel is served with a smooth, creamy sauce.

2 oz. seasoned flour, made with

2 oz. flour,

½ teaspoon salt and

½ teaspoon white pepper

4 whiting fillets, skinned

12 oz. butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried fennel

2 fl. oz. Pernod

6 fl. oz. single cream

Put the seasoned flour on a large, shallow plate and dip the fillets in the flour, coating them thoroughly and shaking off any excess. Set aside.

In a large frying-pan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and celery and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.

Using a spoon, push the vegetables to the edge of the pan and add the fish fillets. Sprinkle with the fennel. Fry the fillets for 5 minutes on each side or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Meanwhile, pour the Pernod into a small saucepan and set the pan over moderately high heat. Heat the Pernod until it is hot and just begins to steam. Remove the pan from the heat.

When the whiting is cooked, pour the hot Pernod over and quickly ignite it. When the flames die down, remove the pan from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the fillets to a warmed serving dish. Keep hot while you finish making the sauce.

Pour the contents of the pan through a fine wire strainer set over a small saucepan. Using the back of a wooden spoon, rub the vegetables through the strainer until only a dry pulp is left. Discard the contents of the strainer.

Stir the cream into the cooking liquid and set the pan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until the sauce is hot but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the fish and serve at once.

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