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Pan-Seared Branzino with Leeks and Saffron Broth

Pan-Seared Branzino with Leeks and Saffron Broth Related:   fish, gluten-free, North America, pareve, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 30-35 mins

Yield: 4 servings

I come from a big brisket family. I always think of my dad with the electric knife, shaving away, while my mom’s go-to dish was tzimmes. She sometimes used carrots and sweet potatoes together with lamb and prunes. I’m also a sucker for a good honey cake. Eating fish, especially the head, is another traditional choice for Rosh Hashanah, which translated means “head of the year.” Fish symbolizes the prosperity and knowledge that we hope will come our way in the new year. I don’t think many of us are up for eating fish heads, but I wanted to combine a few traditional elements of the holiday with a modern approach using light, fresh seasonal flavors and some exotic ones as well. Starting with a Mediterranean fish, the dish leans to Sephardic flavors with the addition of saffron and tomatoes. At DGS Delicatessen, this dish is part of a four-course tasting menu we’re serving for Rosh Hashanah.


  • Leeks
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 medium leek, washed and diced small
  • Broth
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small fennel, finely diced, fronds saved
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 piece celery, finely diced
  • 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (mixed colors cut in half)
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fish
  • 4 filets branzino (4-6 ounces each), skin on, pin bone removed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into a chiffonade or thin ribbons
  • 1/4 cup reserved fennel fronds


  • For the leeks, bring the water, salt and butter to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add the leeks, and continue to boil 3 to 4 minutes. Strain and set aside. Prepare the broth starting with another medium pot on low heat. Add the oil, fennel, carrot, celery and salt. Slowly cook the vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes. Add lemon juice, tomatoes, stock and saffron.  Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • For the fish, season both sides of each filet with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Put the branzino in skin side down, and sear. Flip the fish once the skin is crispy and golden brown.
  • To serve, divide the basil, fennel fronds, cherry tomatoes and leeks among 4 large bowls, with the leeks forming a bed for the fish fillets. Pour 4 to 6 ounces of broth into each bowl and place the cooked fish on top of the leeks. Use some of the tomatoes, basil and fennel fronds on top. Drizzle with olive oil to finish.

2 Responses

  1. Sara says:

    Sounds delicious! However, we aren’t suppose to eat fish with meat in the same dish. I would suggest using vegetable or fish broth instead of the chicken broth. Also I believe it would taste better. In addition there is a fish fork and knife which is removed with the fish plate. A separate meat fork and knife is then provided. Shana Tova!

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