Whole Grilled Fish With Toasted Fennel Oil Recipe

A fresh seafood dish from New York City's Prune restaurant.


Branzino, 1-1/2 lb. each, scaled and gutted
Fennel fronds
Lemon slices
Toasted Fennel Oil (see below)
Blended oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toasted Fennel Oil
1/2 cup fennel seeds
1/2 cup black peppercorns
8 cups blended oil
8 cups extra-virgin olive oil


Step 1: Rinse fish well under cold running water, and run your fingernail up in the cavity to break the bloody vein that runs along the spine. Rinse well. Drain fish well after you have rinsed them.

Step 2: Neatly dress each cavity with a few sprigs of fennel frond and a few very thinly sliced 1/2 moons of lemon. Brush both sides with blended oil and season well with salt and pepper from high up to rain down evenly.

Step 3: Grill on hot section of grill 4 minutes per side, cross-hatching at 2-minute intervals. Do not lift the fish before you have set a good initial mark on it or you will tear the skin.

Step 4: Set on large oval and spoon fennel seed oil (see below) generously over fish, stirring up the seeds from the bottom of the quart. Stick your finger up into the cavity to be sure you have cooked the fish long enough. It should be hot enough in there to make you quickly draw back your finger. Finish with lemon cheek and Maldon sea salt.

Toasted Fennel Oil

Step 1: Cover the bottom of a large cast-iron skillet with fennel seeds and peppercorns.

Step 2: Over medium heat, shake and swirl the pan and warm the seeds through until fragrant and just barely starting to smoke.

Step 3: Immediately remove from heat and add 2 cups of the blended oil and 2 cups of olive oil, then evenly distribute the seeds and their oil among 5 clean quart containers.

Step 4: Top off each quart with equal parts blended and olive oil. Keeps in the refrigerator for a week.

Reprinted with permission from Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune (2014 Random House).