back to recipe archives
Mediterranean Fish Stew: A Simple Recipe
    Serves 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
  leaves of 4 sprigs Italian parsley, minced
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
2 pounds (4 large or 8 medium) ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 28-ounce can, seeded and chopped, with juice-*
1 1/2 cups dry white wine, such as sauvignon or fumé blanc or pinot grigio
3 cups water (less if using canned tomatoes: see below -*)
  salt and freshly ground pepper
2 wide strips of orange zest
2 pounds firm white-fleshed fish, such as halibut, hake, mahi-mahi, shark, cod, or monkfish (can use a combination), cut in 2-inch pieces
  Optional: generous pinch of saffron
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or slivered basil for garnish
*- If using canned tomatoes, drain into a strainer set over a bowl. Measure the liquid in a 4-cup pyrex measure and add water to equal 3 cups.

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-low heat and add the onions, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring, until thoroughly tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, and add the garlic and parsley. Continue to cook for another few minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and has colored slightly.

2. Stir in the anchovies and the tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and the mixture is aromatic.

3. Stir in the wine, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Add salt, about 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons, reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes, stirring often. Taste. Does the mixture taste aromatic? Is there enough salt and garlic? Imagine it with the fish, which will add more depth.

4. Stir in the orange zest, fish and optional saffron and simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes. Make sure the stew isnít boiling: it should be at a slow simmer. The fish should be cooked through and the broth aromatic. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt, and stir in the parsley or basil. Remove the orange peel. Remove from the heat and serve, with crusty bread or garlic croutons.


Advance preparation: You can make the soup base days ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator, or freeze. Bring back to a simmer and add the orange zest and fish shortly before serving.



You can vary the fish, and add shellfish such as shrimp or clambs or squid; However do NOT use strong-flavored fish like salmon or tuna, as these fish will overpower the soup. You can also add cooked vegetables, such as blanched or steamed green beans, peas, zucchini, or steamed pumpkin to the mixture. Use about 1/2 pound vegetables. Blanch or steam ahead of time and add to the pot to heat through just before serving. This makes a hearty and complete meal.

Mexican Fish Stew: Add a couple of minced jalapeŇo or serrano chiles and cook with the onion etc. Garnish with 3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro instead of parsley or basil, and serve with halved limes for people to squeeze into their stew.

    Home | Martha's Cookbooks | Writing Services | Cooking Classes | Ask Martha
Seasonal Recipes | Principles of Cooking | Recipe Archives
    ©1998 - 2010 Martha Rose Shulman