Cucumber-Fennel Relish for Fish


Photo by Michael Piazza / Styled by Catrine Kelty

This versatile, raw relish is assertively sour from both lemon and cider vinegar, so it’s the perfect foil for grilled or roasted oily fish like bluefish, trout or mackerel. When you feel like breaking out the oil pot, it’s also delightful as a condiment for beer-battered, deep-fried cod or hake. The key is the cut of the vegetables: Slice them too big and this is becomes a salad, but if you use a food processor it’ll be too watery. Take the time and a good sharp paring knife to brunoise the cukes and fennel, essentially slicing them very thinly lengthwise and then again crosswise to make a ⅛-inch dice. It makes all the difference in the texture of the finished relish.

Makes approximately 2 cups of relish

6 thin-skinned cucumbers, cut into ⅛-inch dice
1 bulb fennel, white parts only, cut into ⅛-inch dice
¾ cup chopped dill fronds
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and taste for seasoning, adding more salt, sugar or vinegar if needed. The relish should be sharp, almost like a pickle, so be assertive with your acid! Serve with grilled, roasted or fried fish, or as a condiment for freshly shucked oysters.

This recipe appeared in the Summer 2018 issue as part of a larger story on Cucumbers.