Most countries have their own version of fish stews or casseroles whether you’re in Spain, Italy, France, Mexico or India and they’re all full of delicious seafood and their own local flavours. The trick is to get the best possible flavour in to the base of the stew, often known as the broth. Then all you do is simply poach the fish in the stew at the very end of cooking to cook it lightly, then finish with some fresh herbs. The depth of flavour comes from the stock and tomatoes and the balance of subtle spicing in the base of the dish.
When it comes to your choice of seafood in your stew you can put in most things, the key thing is the same as always when you are cooking any kind of seafood, get the freshest you can, and the best way to do this is from a reputable fishmonger or fish counter in a supermarket. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or ask for advice, most will be delighted to talk about what is often their favourite subject!
In our top tip we’ll show you how to make a classic garnish for a fish soup or stew, with a bit of a twist, it’s based on a rouille!
- 12 large shell-on prawns
- 6tbsp olive oil
- 200ml dry white wine
- 400ml fish stock
- 1 large fennel bulb halved and thinly sliced
- 1red pepper thinly sliced
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 small waxy potato
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 1tsp smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp Harissa paste
- 2tbsp tomato purée
- 1tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- Large handful mussels
- 300g skinless cod cut in to chunks
- 150g salmon cut in to chunks
- Few thyme leaves
- Bunch spring onions thinly sliced
- Large handful flat parsley chopped
Peel the prawns, leaving the tail intact then de vein. Fry the shells in 1 tbsp. oil for 5 mins, until dark pink then add the wine, boil down by two thirds, pour in the stock then strain to get rid of the shells.
Heat the rest of the oil in a large ovenproof pan. Add the fennel, peppers, onion and garlic, season, then cover and gently cook for 10 mins until softened. Cut the potato in to chunks and boil in salted water until almost tender. Drain in a colander.
Peel some orange and lemon zest. Put the zest, smoked paprika, bay, thyme and harissa into the pan. Fry gently, uncovered, for 5-10 mins, until the vegetables are soft.
Stir in the tomato purée and sundried tomato purée cook for 2 mins, then add the tomatoes, wine and stock. Simmer for 10 mins until the sauce thickens slightly and season to taste.
Stir the potato, chunks of fish and prawns very slowly into the stew. Bring back to the boil, then cover and gently simmer for 3 mins. Scatter the mussels or clams over the stew, then cover and cook for 2 mins more or until the shells have opened wide. Discard any that remain closed. Sprinkle in the spring onions, parsley and thyme. Spoon in to bowls and top with the rouille (see top tip)
To finish off your soup slice 4 chunky slices from a baguette and drizzle with olive oil, then bake in the oven until golden and crisp. Mix together some good mayo with some hot chili sauce, such as schirachi, a squeeze of lemon and orange juices and some tomato purée. Spoon the rouille on top of each slice of baguette then place one on to each bowl of soup and serve. Voila!
Michael Kilkie, UK NPD Chef
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