I was in the grocery store earlier today and ran into an acquaintance who was planning to do chicken in a Dijon sauce tonight. At one point we briefly discussed fish stew and while that isn’t on our menu this week, I do want to write about it because the recipe that we use is one of those incredibly simple ones. The concept of the meal is also simple; a bowl of the stew, chunks of fresh bread, a salad, and a crisp white wine or cold beer (if so inclined). You can also serve it over a bed of rice if you want more substance. The entire process requires less than an hour, and even better, the stew can be kept for 4-5 days and it tastes great reheated. Yes indeed, it is one of those make-on-the-weekend and serve during the week type of meals. It is also low fat, low calorie, and low carb, although calories and carbs obviously go up when chunks of bread or rice are involved. If you don’t make rice to go with it, it is also a one-pot meal.
The main ingredients of fish, canned tomates, broth, and sauteed vegetables can be augmented with as much, or as little spice, as wanted. The recipe we use is loaded with herbs because that’s what we enjoy, but the basic stew is good even if you don’t use fewer herbs and prefer only salt and pepper. Ready?
Ingredients: 4-6 white, firm fish fillets (use more than one type of fish fo added depth of flavor) cut into large chunks; 1 15-oz can of tomatoes; 2 cups of seafood or chicken broth/stock; 1/4 cup white wine (optional); 1/2 medium onion; 2 cloves minced garlic; 1 stalk celery; 1/2 sweet pepper (red, yellow, or green); 1-2 Tbs olive oil; 1 tsp salt, 2 bay leaves; 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes; 1/4 tsp dried basil; 1/4 tsp dried oregano; 1/4 tsp dried thyme; 1/4 tsp dried rosemary; 1/4 tsp black pepper. Note: We prefer sea/kosher salt and 4-5 grinds of fresh black pepper, and you can increase the herbs up to 1/2 tsp of each.
Dice all vegetables. Saute them in olive oil on medium heat in a 2 quart pan for approximately five minutes or until soft. Add tomatoes, stock, wine, and all spices. Stir thoroughly, bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for twenty minutes. Cut fish into large chunks, salt and pepper lightly on both sides. At the end of the twenty minutes, immerse the fish chunks into the liquid, stir, cover and continue cooking on medium low for another twenty minutes. That’s it, you’re done – discard the bay leaves, ladle it up, or let it cool and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to re-heat.
Another option if you want to turn the fish stew into seafood stew is to use a 3-4 quart pot. Increase the stock to 2 & 1/2 cups for the initial twenty-minute cooking period. Add the fish, cook for ten minutes, then add a dozen peeled and deveined shrimp, making sure to immerse the shrimp fully into the liquid. If you like clams or mussels, add a dozen of those on top of the fish and shrimp, cover and cook for the remaining ten minutes. Discard any clams or mussles that do not open during the cooking time. However, shrimp, clams and mussels do not re-heat well, so I would save this option for when you cook and serve the same day.
There is some question as to if this dish has more a Mediterranean flair or a Caribbean one, but there is no question as to how tasty it is.