Grilled Black Grouper, Creamy Polenta, Grilled Fennel, Shellfish-Pernod Sauce
Chef Isaac Stewart of Fado Pubs - Atlanta, GA

Yield: 4 Serving


    Grilled Fennel:
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper

    Shrimp and Stock:
  • 12 (16/20 or larger) jumbo shrimp
  • Reserved fennel stalks
  • Aromatic vegetables

  • 3 cups reserved stock (from above)
  • ¾ cup polenta (Yellow Cornmeal)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and white pepper

  • 4 (5-6 ounce)Grouper fillets
  • ½ cup very thinly sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Reserved grilled fennel, diced, (about ½ cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 1 cup stock, Reserved from Above
  • ¼ cup Pernod
  • 12 mussels, black or Prince Edward Island, cleaned
  • 12 clams, littleneck, cleaned
  • 12 jumbo shrimp
  • ½ cup tomato concassée (peeled, diced tomato)
  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel fronds


For Grilled Fennel:
Remove stalks from bulb. Gently pull fronds from the stalks and reserve. Chop the stalks into pieces and reserve. Slice the tender inner greens very finely with a very sharp knife. You should have 1 Tablespoon of very thinly sliced fennel. Reserve. Add the remaining fronds to the reserved stalks.

Slice fennel bulb from top down into ½-inch slices. Toss in oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place on medium grill and cook until caramelized and softened.

Pull out the four most attractive slices and reserve. When cool enough to handle, dice remaining fennel into ½-inch dice.

For Shrimp and Stock:
Peel shrimp, leaving tail segment attached. Remove vein from back of shrimp and butterfly shrimp by cutting 2/3 through the back.

Keep shrimp cold by placing in cooler, or with a bag of ice. Add shrimp shells to a stock pot with reserved fennel stalks and fronds (and any additional aromatic vegetables or vegetable scraps).

Cook over high heat (no oil is necessary) until shrimp shells turn pink and vegetables begin to brown. Add 1 quart of water and simmer 15-20 minutes. Strain stock and discard vegetables and shells.

For Polenta:
Bring stock to a boil. Pour polenta into stock in a slow stream while whisking to keep from clumping.

Reduce heat and cook polenta, gently stirring, until it thickens, about 7 minutes.
Stir in cream, butter, and seasonings.

Cook for an additional minute. Cover to keep warm. The consistency should be thin but not runny.

For Grouper:
Season fillets generously with salt and white pepper. Brush with oil and grill until translucent, flipping only once.

Heat a sauté pan. Sauté onion, garlic and fennel in a small amount of oil briefly. Season with salt and pepper. Add stock and Pernod. Bring to a boil.

Add clams and cook for 2 minutes. Add mussels, shrimp and tomatoes. Cover and cook until shellfish opens and shrimp is cooked, about 3 additional minutes. Remove shellfish as it opens to keep from overcooking.

Strain broth into another sauté pan. Reserve vegetables. Return stock to a boil. Add reserved grilled fennel slices to reheat. Cook one additional minute and reduce liquid slightly. Remove from heat. Set aside fennel. Stir in butter and reserved sliced fennel fronds. Adjust seasoning.

Add polenta to the center of 4 large, shallow bowls or plates. Top with fennel, then grilled grouper. Spoon the vegetables on top of fish. Arrange shellfish around the polenta (3 of each per serving).

Ladle sauce around polenta and over seafood. Finally, top the vegetables and fish with a small amount of sauce.

   Published: December 2005