Saturday, February 6, 2010

Recipe: Catalan Fish Stew

I tried this recipe for the first time last tonight from Sam and Sam Clark's legendary Spanish cookbook 'Moro'. It was delicious and I mean finger-licking-good delicious. And dunking chunks of torn sourdough bread into the seafoody, tomatoey juices tasted almost as good as the fresh assortment of barramundi, blue swimmer crab, mussels and king prawns.
I'm a compulsive tweaker of recipes ( hence my poor performance in Celebrity MasterChef! ). The recipe calls for fish stock but I used chicken stock instead. I sometimes find fish stock a little too fishy which I know is what fish stock is supposed to be but it can be a little over-powering. It's not authentic but I also threw in a teaspoon of chilli flakes for a little added kick. I especially like how ground almonds are used as a thickener in this recipe. It's hearty, low-cal and nutritious. If you can't get to Spain for Friday night dinner this is the next best thing!

Recipe: Catalan Fish Stew (Romesco de Peix)

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 dessertspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 red peppers, quartered, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes, drained of juice and roughly chopped
150ml white wine
100ml fish stock
50 saffron strands, infused in 4 tablespoons of boiling water
150g whole blanched almonds, lightly roasted and roughly ground
650g of monkfisk fillets (or other firm fish), cut into 5cm chunks
500g clams or mussels, prawns or crab or a combination of all
sea salt and black pepper

In a large saucepan or terracotta cazuela (flat Spanish dish)  heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook the onion until it is golden and sweet, about 15-20 minutes. Now add the garlic, the bay, rosemary and red pepper. When the pepper has softened for at least 10 minutes, add the paprika and the tomatoes. Simmer for another 10 minutes, then add the white wine and allow the alcohol to bubble away for a couple of minutes before adding the fish stock and the saffron-infused water.
 Finally thicken the base with the almonds and taste for seasoning.

When you are almost ready to eat, add the seafood in order of what takes longest to cook (crab, then prawns, mussels, then barramundi pieces etc.) Serve with a sprinkling of fresh flat-leaf parsley and crunchy bread.


  1. I'm salivating. I WISH I could get to Spain for Friday night dinner, it's one of my favourite countries. A very good friend of mine gave us that same Moro book and after many repeat visits to its pages I still haven't made anything from it.
    After seeing your fish stew (I would have thrown in chilli as well) I'm inspired!

  2. Ive never been a fan of fish but reading this i get the serious feeling that im missing out . almonds and fish , strange but strangely fascinating , i want to dip my bread in . Fish sauce to fishy , that made me smile :-))

  3. Hi john,
    I absolutely adore the Moro cookbook. I find the recipes simple and unusal but always delicious. Indira.

    Hi sev,
    I couldn't imagine my food adventures not involing fish. Recommend you start with some mild fresh fish such as whiting and just cook it simply with butter and herbs to really get the true flavour. People are often fish because it hasn't been fresh or its been overcooked.

    Hi Reemski,
    I love mussels to. Other then one bad experience with them in a restaurant in Las Vegas, they are almost always one of the best dishes to try from a menu.The Gazebo Wine Garden in Potts Point does a Monday night special 2 pots of mussels for the price of one. Indira