Baked John Dory with Fennel and Tomato

Cook time 55 minutes
Servings 4


1⁄2 tsp coriander seeds, bruised
1 fennel bulb, very finely sliced, fronds reserved to serve
2 cherry tomato vines (or 250g cherry tomatoes)
2 French shallots, finely sliced
1 x 1.4–1.6 kg whole John Dory, cleaned, gutted and head removed
250mL dry white wine
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
40g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Baked John Dory with Fennel and Tomato


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a large ovenproof baking dish.

Toast the coriander seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat until fragrant.

Arrange the fennel, tomatoes (snipped into four even bunches if on the vine), shallot and coriander seeds in the centre of the prepared dish to make a bed for the fish. Place the fish on top of the vegetables and add the wine and salt and pepper. Scatter a quarter of the butter over the fish. Bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, basting with the juices once or twice. To check if the fish is cooked, pierce a knife into the thickest part of the flesh. If the flesh flakes away with ease, it is ready; if it doesn’t, return the fish to the oven for another five minutes. Please note that the cooking time will vary according to the thickness of the fish.

Remove the fish and serve it one of two ways; either take off the skin and backbone and carefully lift off the fillets, keeping the fish fillets warm on a large platter covered with foil. Or, alternatively, keep the fish whole and serve it in the baking dish.

Place the dish of vegetables over medium–high heat on the stovetop and reduce the liquid for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the remaining butter until combined, then sprinkle in the parsley. To serve, pour the juices and vegetables over the filleted or whole fish and garnish with the fennel fronds.

You can use other great smoked fish alternatives like hot-smoked eel, kingfish, haddock, cod or even smoked salmon

Tip: Other whole fish that can be used for this recipe include sole, flounder, baby snapper and whiting.