Cookbook: grouper from The Park Cafe

Poached grouper with tomato-fennel broth, mussels and crab-fennel salad by executive chef Matt Canter at The Park Cafe. Wade Spees/Staff


1 gallon court bouillon (recipe follows)

6 (5-ounce) portions of grouper, skin and bloodline removed

1 quart tomato-fennel broth (recipe follows)

1 pound mussels

4 ounces butter

1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

3 pounds fingerling potatoes, boiled and skinned

Fennel salad (recipe follows)

Olive oil


Heat poaching liquid to 180 degrees. Add fish fillets to the liquid, turning occasionally for about 8 minutes.

In a separate sauté pan, combine the tomato-fennel broth,mussels, butter, parsley and potatoes. Cook over high heat until the mussels open, about 5 minutes.

Place each poached fillet in the center of a large shallow bowl. Spoon the mussel mixture over and around the fish. Garnish with fennel salad, divided equally between the six bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Tomato-Fennel Broth


2 cups white onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 leek, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup white wine

2 cups canned whole tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon saffron

5 quarts fish stock (see recipe, or purchase premade from your fishmonger)

6 sprigs of thyme and 6 bay leaves, tied together with twine

Salt, to taste

Hot sauce, to taste


Heat a 12-quart saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and leek; sweat until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the wine and reduce by half.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, saffron, fish stock and herbs. Bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, until it has reduced to just over a gallon.

Puree mixture in a blender until very smooth. Pass through a fine mesh strainer. Season the mixture with salt and hot sauce. Set aside.

Fish stock


5 quarts water

5 pounds fish bones from any clean and mild fish, such as grouper or snapper (Avoid trout, salmon and tuna as these are oily and very strong in flavor.)

4 stalks of celery

1 leek

1 medium yellow onion

1/2 bulb of fennel

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns


Combine all ingredients and bring to a very brief boil, constantly skimming off any foam of impurities that rise to the surface. Gently simmer for 30-40 minutes. Let the stock rest for 5-10 minutes. Pass the top 90 percent of the liquid through a fine mesh strainer in order not to stir up any silt that may have settled at the bottom of the pot.

Set aside if using immediately. Otherwise, chill in an ice bath and reserve. Fish stock will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Court Bouillon (poaching liquid)


5 quarts water

1 quarts white wine

1 cup white distilled vinegar

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

1 small leek, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

6-8 parsley stems

6 thyme sprigs

¼ teaspoon black peppercorns


Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are soft. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and set aside. Court bouillon will keep in the refrigerator for about a week

Fennel Salad


1 fennel bulb

1/2 pound jumbo lump crab

½ bunch flat-leaf parsley

Lemon juice, to taste

Olive oil, to taste

Salt, to taste


Shave fennel very thin on a mandolin, or use a vegetable peeler. Combine the fennel with crab and parsley. Season the mixture with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

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Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.