This classic Eastern European dish is hands-off yet impressive enough for entertaining. The red pepper adds sweetness, while the white-wine braise results in a tender flakey fish that is, for once, nearly impossible to overcook. It’s my go-to, served over quinoa, brown rice or soft polenta, and a homestyle dish that reminds me of one my grandma used to make.
PS. While this recipe is not vegan, the sauce can be made as a braise for tempeh, seitan, or even firm tofu. It would also be delicious served with a vegetarian beetball recipe like this amazing one from gourmandelle.com. Or simply serve it over some soft polenta for a delicious dinner.
Mediterranean Fish Braised in White Wine (Romanian Plachie)
Recipe by Andrea Branchini
Serves 4 Active 25 minutes Total 50 minutes
- 4 six-ounce black sea bass fillets (or cod or haddock), skin off or skin on and scaled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 medium red bell peppers, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1 large white onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack positioned in the center.
Rinse the sea bass filets with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil and turn to coat. Set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven (or oven-safe pan). Add the peppers, onions and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes translucent and peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, white wine, bay leaves and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the peppers are tender, about 10 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until softened slightly, about 2 minutes more.
Place fish filets in the pot and spoon sauce over. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until fish is cooked through, and onions have melted down into the sauce—the true sign of a traditional plachie.
Transfer fish to a plate, spoon on plenty of sauce, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
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