A vinaigrette can be used for far more than just salads—after all, it's a legit sauce, and should be thought of as such. Here, we spoon a tangerine and fennel vinaigrette on whole roasted fish to add a splash of light, bright flavor. The fact that it can be thrown together so quickly is just gravy...er...we mean vinaigrette.
Why this recipe works:
- A blend of fresh tangerine and lemon juices creates a dressing with a perfect 3:1 ratio of oil to acid for a perfectly smooth emulsion that's both tart enough (thanks to the lemon juice) and flavorful enough (thanks to the tangerine juice).
- Tangerine zest and ground fennel seed add an extra hit of flavor and complexity.
Note: If you can't find branzino, you can substitute any other white-fleshed fish of a similar weight (or a single fish that's double the weight), such as snapper, bass, or porgy. Cooking times will change depending on the dimensions and weight of the fish you use.
- Kosher salt
- 4 whole branzini (about 1 pound each), scaled and gutted (see note)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- Fennel fronds from 1 bulb of fennel (optional)
- 1 tangerine, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
- Tangerine and Fennel Vinaigrette
Fill a large bowl about halfway with room-temperature water and add enough salt to taste, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add fish and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain fish and pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 350°F and position rack in center of oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Season fish inside and out with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Stuff belly cavities with rosemary, fennel fronds, tangerine slices.
Roast fish until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 135°F, 20 to 25 minutes; alternatively, roast until fins come right off when pulled and flesh can be felt to flake under the skin when you press on it. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes.
Gently carve fillets from bone cage, transfer to plates, and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve.