A delicious recipe for stewed fish in tomato sauce, a quick dish bursting with Mediterranean flavor. A light and healthy recipe.
I love anything with fish, but stewed fish or fish soups are my favorite ways of enjoying it. I grew up eating loads of stews, they are something familiar and comforting, well-known tastes and textures, that remind me of my childhood.
I never had fish stew as a kid, but I've been cooking different kinds of fish or seafood stews for as long as I have been cooking. From the famous Brazilian moqueca de peixe, to calamari stew or this simple Mediterranean stewed fish.
- There is a variety of sorts you can choose from, the only thing you have to consider is that it should be a firm kind.
- You could choose halibut (like I had this time), cod, pollock, tilapia, haddock, bass and so on. Or combine several sorts.
- Salmon is not a white fish, but it tastes great in this combination as well. Try to combine it 1:1 with one of the other sorts mentioned above.
- You can substitute half of the fish with shrimps, we absolutely love this version.
Fresh or frozen fish?
- Well, fresh is always better, but let's face it, it costs at least twice as much as frozen. And if you live (like I do) in an area which is far away from the sea and not much into seafood generally, you will have a hard time finding anything fresh anyway.
- So, frozen it is most of the time. It is convenient as well, I always have a few different sorts in my freezer, so I can make stewed fish any time I want.
- And when it comes to shrimps they are always the frozen kind. Really, I cannot even remember the last time I saw fresh shrimps in our local supermarket...
- If you have it, it is the perfect choice. If not, you can replace it with vegetable stock.
- I use this salmon stock most of the time, there are usually one or two jars full of it in my freezer.
- Dry white wine.
- It is not mandatory, but I generally don't want to miss the flavor, it balances the caramelized sugar perfectly.
- Onion, garlic and small amounts of carrots and celeriac.
- Celeriac can be replaced with the same amount of celery sticks. Or try parsley root, if you happen to have it.
- The fresh chili should be used to taste. I had a whole long one this time and the stew was really hot. We loved it, but I always use less when the kids are eating.
- Fresh chili can be replaced with red chili flakes or cayenne pepper to taste. Or you can leave out the chili completely, if you don't want a spicy fish stew.
- Dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves.
- You can use an Italian or French (Herbs de Provence) herb mixture as well. Don't forget to add the bay leaves though.
- Or you can choose fresh herbs, I do it mostly in spring and summer when they all grow in my garden.
- Chopped tomatoes from a can, olive oil, a little sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
How to make stewed fish?
- Defrost seafood.
Tip: Preferably slowly in the refrigerator, overnight, or over several hours. When you are pressed for time, leave it at room temperature, spread it in one layer on some kitchen paper.
- Chop the onions very finely, set them aside.
- Chop the carrots, celeriac/celery, garlic, and chili very finely as well.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or another large thick-bottomed pot.
- Saute the onions with a pinch of salt for about 2 minutes on medium-low heat. (1)
- Add the rest of the diced veggies, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes or until the onions are perfectly soft. (2)
Tip: Keep in mind that once you add the wine and the tomatoes, the onions will not soften anymore, the acidity of those mentioned will prevent that.
- Add the sugar, stir and let caramelize slightly for about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, turn the heat a bit up and let the wine cook off, it will take about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, stock and dried herbs. Stir well and cook on medium-low heat, uncovered for about 10 minutes, the sauce should be slightly thickened. If you feel it thickens too soon, cover the pot, leaving a crack open. (3)
- In the meantime, cut the fish into pieces, about 4-5 cm/ 1 ½ – 2 inch pieces. Add to the pot, stir very gently.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes. It should flake easily. (4)
Tip: Don't overcook it or it will become though. Keep in mind that it will continue cooking in the sauce during the time you bring the pot to the table and serve it.
How to serve fish stew?
Serve immediately with crusty white bread or baguette. Alternatively, serve with rice, we love to combine it with brown rice. If serving with brown rice, keep in mind that this sort needs about 30 minutes cooking time, so start cooking it when you start with the stew as well.
Leftovers can be reheated, but the fish will be a little tougher. Despite that, it will still taste delicious.
- 1 medium onion about 150 g/ 5.3 oz
- 1 carrot about 150 g/ 5.3 oz
- 1 small piece celeriac or 1-2 celery sticks about 75 g/ 2.6 oz
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 long red chili to taste (Note 1)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 150 ml/ 5 fl.oz/ ⅔ cup dry white wine
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes each 400 g/ 14 oz
- 700 ml/ 23 fl.oz/ 3 cups fish stock or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano Note 2
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 3 bay leaves
- 450 g/ 1 lb firm white fish fillets Notes 3,4,5
- 450 g/ 1 lb shrimps
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- some parsley
- Defrost seafood completely. Chop the onions very finely, set them aside. Chop the carrots, celeriac/celery, garlic, and chili very finely as well, set aside.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or another large thick-bottomed pot. Saute the onions with a pinch of salt for about 2 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Add the remaining vegetables, stir well and cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the onions are perfectly soft. Stir often and add a splash of the wine or stock, if they threaten to catch.
- Add the sugar, stir and let caramelize slightly for about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, turn the heat a bit up and let the wine reduce completely, it will take about 1-2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, fish stock, and dried herbs. Stir well and cook on medium-low heat, uncovered for about 10 minutes, the sauce should be slightly thickened. If you think it thickens too much, cover the pot partially with the lid.
- Cut the fish into pieces, about 4-5 cm/ 1 ½ – 2-inch pieces. Add to the pot, stir gently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes. It should flake easily. Don't overcook the fish or it will become tough, it will continue cooking in the sauce during the time you bring the pot to the table and serve it.
- Adjust the taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.
- Substitute with red chili flakes or cayenne pepper, always to taste.
- Substitute with either fresh herbs or an Italian or French dried herb mixture, such a Herbs de Provence.
- Such as halibut, cod, snapper, pollock, bass, haddock, tilapia. Salmon is also great, although not a white fish.
- Either fresh or frozen and thoroughly defrosted.
You can use either 900 g/ 2 lbs fish or substitute half or some of it with shrimps.
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