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Crisp Branzino Fillets with Zucchini and Fresh Tomato Jus
© Lisa Linder

Crisp Branzino Fillets with Zucchini and Fresh Tomato Jus

  • SERVINGS: 8 first-course servings

The idea for this elegant recipe came from a hearty Moroccan fish-and-tomato stew that’s made in the oven. Mourad Lahlou transformed the stew into a very delicate tomato jus, which he serves with pieces of crisp branzino and sautéed zucchini.

  1. 2 pounds large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
  2. 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  3. 1 garlic clove
  4. 1 thyme sprig
  5. 1 mint sprig
  6. 1 parsley sprig
  7. 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  8. Salt
  9. Freshly ground pepper
  10. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  11. 2 medium zucchini, thickly sliced
  12. Eight 3-ounce branzino fillets, pin bones removed
  13. Lemon zest strips, for serving
  1. Puree the tomatoes in a blender. Strain the juice into a medium saucepan, pressing lightly on the solids; you should have about 2 cups. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, mint, parsley and coriander seeds and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 6 minutes. Strain the jus into a small saucepan, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until lightly browned and tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to plates. Wipe out the skillet.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet and the remaining 2 tablespoons to another large nonstick skillet. Season the fish with salt and pepper and add to the skillets, skin side down. Using a large spatula, press the fish lightly to sear the skin for a few seconds. Cook over high heat until the skin is very crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets and cook for 1 minute longer, until the flesh flakes when pierced with a fork. Place the fish over the zucchini, skin side up, and spoon the warm tomato jus all around. Garnish with lemon zest and serve right away.

Suggested Pairing

The tomato jus on this branzino dish is wonderfully bright and bold. It demands a similar wine, like a citrusy California Sauvignon Blanc.