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Fish Baked in Foil with Fennel and Lime

February 22, 2011

Fish Baked in Foil with Fennel and Lime

- Merrill

Pretty much everything my husband and I consumed at Kiwayu Safari Village -- a lovely eco-resort right on the Indian Ocean in Kenya -- involved lime in some way: from the virgin Dawa (lime juice mixed with water and a little sugar) we were offered as a refreshment when we first arrived (welcome drinks seem to be standard in East Africa, and I'll admit I kind of wish we had them here), to the wedges of lime served alongside fresh octopus salad or dressed crab at lunch, to the paper-thin slices of lime layered on top of the beautiful whole baked fish presented to us at the dinner table one night. What's more, the bartenders used a special tool to squeeze limes for our cocktails every night: it was a wooden juicer with two long handles, beautiful hand-carved detailing on the top, and a slightly off-center cluster of small holes for the juice to run through. We loved watching the bartenders squeeze lime and after lime with these.

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The day before we left, the women working in the small shop at the hotel beckoned me to a corner, where she furtively unwrapped a small bundle. Inside, she had four of the lime squeezers. She said, "We normally don't sell these, but I have some extra -- would you like one?" I didn't hesitate, and I was soon walking back to our bungalow with a lime squeezer all my own.

Below is an adaptation of the recipe, given to me by the chef at Kiwayu, for the whole baked fish with lime -- in addition to the lime slices that get laid on top of the fish, the fish gets bathed in a delicate marinade of lime juice, olive oil and cilantro before baking. Lime heaven!

Fish Baked in Foil with Fennel and Lime

Adapted from Kiwayu Safari Village

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 medium whole fish, about 2 1/2 pounds (I used striped bass), head and tail on and scaled
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large lime, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
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chef.luis February 28, 2011
Great recipe... I was checking your newsletter and when I saw the fish, I dediced to cook it right away, I had everything on hand in the restaurant and as soon as I finish reading it I went to the kitchen to cook it for me, the fish turned out great, but I have to confess... I coudn't stop adding twice the butter :) to have more "sauce" to dip crusty bread in it! Thanks Merrill
Merrill S. February 28, 2011
You're welcome! So glad you liked it. And I'm never against adding a little more butter...
Pattiji February 27, 2011
What does the inside of the lime press look like?
Merrill S. February 28, 2011
Check out the second photo in the slideshow!
dymnyno February 23, 2011
Thanks for a great recipe/souvenir...the pics are fabulous, too!! I have been studying them.
Merrill S. February 28, 2011
You're very welcome -- and glad you're enjoying the photos.
Greenstuff February 22, 2011
What a wonderful keepsake from your honeymoon. And the fish looks like a treat.
Merrill S. February 22, 2011
Midge February 22, 2011
This sounds scrumptious and what a cool souvenir! Love the new set-up that makes it easier to save the recipe.
Merrill S. February 22, 2011
So glad you like the new set-up! We do too.
dymnyno February 22, 2011
The fish sounds delicious!
Merrill S. February 22, 2011
Thank you!
aargersi February 22, 2011
Love the fish and really really love the Africa pix!!!!
Merrill S. February 22, 2011
So glad! It was truly an amazing trip.
Sagegreen February 22, 2011
This is so beautiful, it could be a painting! I think this would be a great recipe for Meg with her feasting on art work to pair up with a painting (http://www.feastingonart.com/recipes). The lime squeezer is so artful, too. Not to mention the flavor profile, mustard, fennel, and lime, yum.
Merrill S. February 22, 2011
Thanks! And what a cool site.
SweetPotatoSoul February 28, 2011
I agree, that lime squeezer is gorgeous. And the flavor profile is enticing. I'm a vegetarian, but your photos have me craving this fish, or at least a safari/beach vacation at Kiwayu.
@Sagegreen, thanks for sharing www.feastingonart.com, I love it!
Merrill S. February 22, 2011
Yes, in fact I suspect they may have even cooked it on the grill at Kiwayu.
lastnightsdinner February 22, 2011
Beautiful! I bet this would be a very grill-friendly dish, too. Thanks so much for sharing these dishes and your honeymoon memories with us!