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Fish and Shellfish, Quick and Easy, Sides

Nagia's orzo and smoked eel

Nagia's orzo and smoked eel
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

In the Athens I knew when I first moved here almost 20 years ago, the taverna was still an institution. That was in the early 1990s, before a stock market boom, the Olympics, and the return of a generation of ... Read more

Total time: 30 minutes | Serves 2
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Greek
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel bulb
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons orzo
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ouzo
  • 1 1/4 cups fish or vegetable broth
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 1/2 ounces smoked eel fillet, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped wild fennel or fennel fronds
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Step 1Place the olive oil and butter in a deep skillet and heat over medium heat. Stir in the chopped fennel bulb and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the orzo and stir to coat the pasta. Pour over the ouzo.

Step 2As soon as the alcohol steams off, stir in the broth and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and stir until the orzo has absorbed almost all the liquid, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the eel, lemon juice and fennel. Stir for a minute, then remove from heat and cover.

Step 3Set the mixture aside for 5 to 7 minutes to absorb any excess liquid. Serve hot, with freshly ground pepper. This makes a scant 2 cups orzo.

Note: Smoked eel is available at select markets as well as online. Smoked trout can be substituted.

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