Baked Tilapia With Whole Spices

Course : Seafoods
Serves: 4
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2 teaspoons peanut or other vegetable -- oil
1 medium carrot -- peeled and cut into sticks
4 medium green onions -- cut into sections
8 pieces quarter-size slices ginger -- (no need to peel)
1 teaspoon whole allspice
3 pieces star anise pods -- broken up
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 small dried chiles -- any loose removed
2 fillets tilapia -- cleaned and scaled --1 to 3 pounds in all)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white wine
1/2 cup fish or poultry stock
1 tablespoon butter -- (optional)

Preparation / Directions:

This will work with other whole lean fish, including small rockfish or farmed striped bass, and cuts or 'roasts' of halibut or pink salmon. Adjust the cooking time according to the thickness and density of the fish. Preheat oven to 400F Rub a baking dish well with the oil, add the vegetables and whole spices, and toss to coat them lightly with oil. Arrange in an even layer. Rinse the fish well inside and out, pat dry, season lightly with salt, and place on top of the vegetables. Add the wine and 3 tablespoons of the stock. Make a loose tent of foil over the tail of the fish and place in the oven. Bake, rotating the pan once halfway through the cooking time, until a skewer easily enters the thickest part of the fish, 25 to 30 minutes. If you have an instant-reading thermometer, it should read 145F to 150F in the center near the bone. Transfer the fish to a warm serving platter. Strain the contents of the baking dish into a small saucepan; discard the spices and vegetables. Add the remaining stock, bring to a boil and reduce by a third. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Swirl in the butter if desired and pour over and around the fish on the platter. Jay Harlow writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, 12/16/9

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