Some of my best and favourite meals are the ones when I have no idea what I was cooking until three minutes before I start. “What have you got in the freezer?” I asked Granny, before leaving the hospital. “Oh there’s a fillet of salmon, some plaice, some prawns.” My mind started whirring immediately. What the heck can I make for three people with a random mix of fish and some prawns?! When this sort of thing happens I start working out what flavours I feel like and then Google recipes. In this instance I felt like something hearty and stew-like, with tomatoes. For some reason I thought ‘Spanish!’ When I think fish stew I think overcooked, bland, fishy, white sauce, not particular tasty. I needed robust flavours to prove to myself that fish stew CAN be tasty. With a fridge full of random odds and ends, this was the perfect recipe for comfort food with a big Omega 3 hit.
The original Spanish version has beans or chickpeas in; I’ve substituted green beans. This was a really easy meal, thrown together in half an hour. I didn’t have enough time to defrost the fish, so I took them out right at the start so they were only semi-defrosted by the time they went in. They’re easier to cut when they’re semi-frozen anyway. I made potato wedges to go with this but cauliflower rice would be good too. Or normal rice, if you eat that. Or a big pile of creamy mashed potatoes. Comfort food!
For the fish stew:
- 1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 mild red chilli, chopped
- 3 thick slices of smoked bacon (in this instance I think thick, rustic butcher’s bacon is best), chopped
- 1 dsp sweet paprika
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 200g green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
- Mixed seafood – salmon, white fish, prawns, squid will all be good. I think dark, oily fish (like mackerel) would be too strong for this recipe. I used 1 fillet of salmon, 2 fillets of plaice and 200g of prawns. Chop fish into inch square pieces.
- Stock – any would do; I used ham stock. If you don’t have any stock, water will be fine.
- 1 tbsp capers
- Handful basil leaves, chopped
For the potato wedges:
- As many potatoes/sweet potatoes as you need. As I was using what I had to hand I used an orange sweet potato, a white sweet potato and about five small white potatoes. Chop them into wedges.
- 1 dsp coconut oil
- Dried herbs – whatever you like: coriander, mixed herbs, thyme, oregano are all good
- Spices – optional (I didn’t): cumin seeds, chilli flakes, black pepper would be good
- Maldon sea salt
- Turn oven on to gas mark 8 to preheat.
- Start with the wedges: Put coconut oil and herbs/spices in a large baking tray and place it in the oven to melt.
- Put potato wedges in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and turn on to a medium-high heat. As soon as the water comes to the boil, drain and leave to steam in the colander over the saucepan.
- While the potatoes are steaming, start the fish stew. Heat olive oil in a frying pan on a medium-low heat and fry bacon until cooked. Remove and add the onion and garlic; fry until softened. Season with salt and pepper while its cooking.
- Meanwhile, remove the baking tray from the oven and carefully tip the potato wedges into the pan. Shake to coat with oil and spices and put back in the oven.
- Back to the fish: Add red pepper and chillies and continue frying until they begin to soften.
- Add paprika and stir to coat.
- Stir in tomato puree and keep stirring for a few minutes. Add the tin of tomatoes, stir thoroughly and allow to bubble up.
- Pour in the stock, bring to a boil and then turn it down, cover and leave to simmer. After 10 minutes, add green beans and leave to simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes.
- Potato wedges should be well cooked by now – check using a skewer. If they’re not very crispy, turn your oven up to its highest temperature and put the tray back in for the last 10 minutes. If they look fine, just keep them warm while you finish the stew.
- When the simmer time is up for the stew, add the fish pieces and raw prawns (if the prawns are not raw just add them at the end to warm through). Put the lid back on and leave to cook for 10 minutes. Check the fish is cooked and add the capers. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning.
- Sprinkle the stew with chopped basil leaves, sprinkle the potato wedges with Maldon sea salt and serve!