Pan-fried Coley, tomato and fennel salad

Coley is one of the least expensive fish in the cod family and is generally regarded as a sustainable fish, unlike everyone’s favourite cod. On the fishmonger’s slab, the flesh appears a little pinky/grey but turns white when it’s cooked. Also sometimes known as saithe and coalfish, coley can be used in any recipe calling for cod. For reasons of speed and ease of cooking, thrift and the welfare of the cod itself, it really is worth a try. And if coley’s not available, hake is a great alternative.
Serves two
Two 200gm coley fillets – skin on, scaled and pin-boned by the fishmonger
One head of fennel
Two tomatoes
Six cherry tomatoes – halved
Extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
A few mixed salad leaves
Lemon juice
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Butter
Flour for dusting the fish
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C , gas mark 6
Cut the fennel in half length-ways, remove the core and cut the remainder into 5mm-thick slices. Heat an oven-proof pan, pour in two or three tablespoons of oil, add the fennel slices and allow them to brown a little over a medium heat, stirring occasionally as you add a little salt and pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. Meanwhile, remove the eye from the two large tomatoes, cut them into wedges and add them to the saucepan. Give a further stir and place the pan, uncovered, in the oven for around ten minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Heat a frying pan and add a little oil. Dust the skin of the fish fillets with flour, shaking off any excess, and place in the frying pan, skin side down, over a medium heat. Season with a little salt and pepper but don’t move the fish. After four or five minutes of frying, add a walnut-sized knob of butter to the pan and carefully lift the fish to see if the skin appears golden and crisp. When it is, carefully turn the fillets over to cook for another three minutes.
While the fish finishes cooking, drain the oil from the fennel and tomato mix but make sure you reserve it as it makes the perfect dressing for the salad. Place the salad leaves and cherry tomatoes in a bowl together, pour over the reserved oil and toss. Pile onto plates and place the fish fillets on top or alongside.

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