In the past month, I could probably count on one hand the number of nice days we’ve had here in the south east of England. Today was one of them, so naturally I decided to stand over a boiling pot of onions, fennel, peppers, tomatoes and stock to make fish stew. Brilliant.
Unfortunately, England is one of those places where planning seasonal meals can often infuriate you and your dining companions when a last minute change in the weather means the dish you had been looking forward to all day – or all year – no longer satisfies in the way it should. There is an exception, of course, during winter when you can guarantee that it will be grey, cold and unpleasant for about six months and you will want to eat nothing but macaroni and cheese with a side of mashed potatoes, embedding yourself further into the couch under a mountain of blankets. I digress.
This meal could not be simpler and it’s pretty tasty, especially if you can push the boat out on some really good quality fish. As we had some friends over, I decided to make it a bit special and make a rouille. There are lots of conflicting recipes for rouille on the internet, most of which include breadcrumbs which was news to me. For this one I left out the saffron, which some may find a sin too far, but it was creamy, garlicky and complemented the stew perfectly.
According to my Olive magazine, this stew (sans rouille) weighs in at a meagre 151 calories per serving and even with a dollop of rouille that can’t be much more than 200-250 calories total, which means this meal is definitely bang for your buck on both fronts: diet and effort.
Recipe modified from Olive magazine June 2013
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 White or Yellow Onions, sliced
1 Fennel Bulb, thinly sliced
2 Red Peppers, sliced
3 cloves Garlic
2 tsp Fennel Seeds
2 tsp Paprika
200ml White Wine
400ml Chicken, Vegetable or Fish Stock
2 tins Plum Tomatoes
600g White Fish, preferably one with a meaty texture which will hold its shape like cod, haddock, hake or huss, cut into chunks
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat, then add onions and saute until translucent.
2. Add garlic, peppers, fennel, fennel seeds and paprika and saute for a further 5-7 minutes until the vegetables soften.
3. Add wine and cook until almost evaporated. Then add stock and tomatoes and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
4. Add fish and cook for 1-3 minutes. Depending on how meaty it is, it’ll cook quite quickly so keep an eye on it.
5. Top with rouille, if using, and parsley.
1 piece stale or frozen bread, cubed
3 cloves Garlic (use less or more as desired, this amount gives a good garlicky kick)
A pinch Red Chilli Flakes
1 Egg Yolk
1-2 Tbsp Water
1. Blitz garlic cloves and bread in food processor until minced.
2. Add red chilli flakes, egg yolk, water and blitz again.
3. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow drizzle until the rouille comes together and thickens.
4. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with bread or on top of fish soup or stew.