Living close to the coast in Andalucia we are never short of two things, plenty of freshly caught delicious fish and an abundance of sunshine. However, as winter draws in and the days get cooler, the food I cook becomes warmer and richer, and my fish stew is a wonderfully warming dish which can be served for lunch or dinner.
This Andalucian Fish Stew is inspired by a typical Spanish “cazuela de pescado” which is a simple recipe, but the depth of flavour is quite incredible. I prefer to make this with hake ‘merluza” or monkfish ‘rape” but really any firm white fish will work just fine. Just as you need a firm fish, make sure your potatoes are waxy so that they don’t disintegrate in the sherry laced juices. Here I’d always use fresh tomatoes but if no tasty ones are available to you, just use tined but drain them first. Feel free to add any prawns or mussels. Serve with plenty of fresh crunchy bread to mop up the leftover juices.
When I make this dish, I wash it down with a chilled Fino or Amontillado Sherry, or a local un-oaked chardonnay or a young fruity red wine.
Andalucian Fish Stew
60ml olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 star anise
2 tsp sweet Pimenton de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika)
1 bay leaf
350ml dry sherry
400g tomatoes either skinned, de-seeded and chopped or a drained tin of chopped tomatoes
350ml water or fish stock
1/4 tsp saffron threads crumbled into 2 tbsp hot water
750g potatoes, peeled and diced – use a waxy potato such as Charlotte
700g monkfish/white fish, cut into 1in pieces
salt and pepper
a handful of chopped parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion and pepper cook over moderate heat stirring occasionally until the vegetables are beginning to brown.
- Add the garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn. Then add the star anise, paprika and bay leaf, stir, and cook for a further minute. Next, add the sherry and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced (about 5 minutes). Add the tomatoes, water or stock, and saffron (including water) and bring to a boil.
- Add the potatoes and place the lid on the pan, cook over moderate heat until the potatoes are cooked.
- Add the fish – don’t stir, just place it among the potatoes and push gently into the liquid, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and simmer until the fish is cooked through (2-3 minutes). Discard the bay leaf, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
- Best served in wide soup plates with a spoon.