A fine kettle of fishMay 23, 2010
Sunday lunch in winter is a very fine thing, and a big pot of shellfish stew has gotta be up there as one of the easiest ways to make it happen. I don’t think I’ve ever made a proper bouillabaisse according to a recipe, but over the years various versions of this fishy number have made their way to our table.
Great for a crowd or just few, as we discovered today it must also be one of the easiest meals to take to someone else’s place – just make the stock base at home, stick it in a container, then throw it in a pot with the seafood five minutes before you’re ready to eat. The prawn stock is the important bit. This quantity makes a hefty bowl for four.
- 12 large prawns
- 1 small fennel bulb, roughly chopped
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- splosh white wine
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 3 strips orange peel
- few threads saffron
- pinch dried chilli flakes
- ½ kg black mussels, cleaned
- ½ kg perch or other firm white fish, cut into 4cm chunks
- 1 blue swimmer crab, cleaned & quartered
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- Peel & devein prawns, leaving tails on and setting aside the shells & heads.
- Heat oil & toss in shells & heads, stirring over high heat till pink, then add leek, fennel, garlic & celery and stir till softened & starting to caramelise.
- Deglaze with the wine, then add stock.
- Remove as much of the prawn shells & heads as much as you can using tongs – but if a bit of leg or shell remains, what’s a smidge of crunchy crustacean between friends?
- Add tomatoes, saffron, orange peel & chilli flakes. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 30 minutes.
- A few minutes before you’re ready to eat, add the fish and cleaned seafood and turn the heat to low or even off.
- Check for seasoning, serve in big bowls with a drizzle of olive oil.
Make sure you have some great bread for dunking. Today our family from the beachside burbs provided some incredibly good sourdough baguette from Iggy’s Bread in Bronte – I’d never heard of this guy before today, but he’s obviously the business.
And if you have any other fishy stewy recommendations or ideas for giving this version some extra zing (a la a splash of Pernod), I’m all ears…