Spanish Fish Stew

My mum was coming to visit and I wanted to cook something new. My mother loves food, especially healthy food. Our childhood was devoid of junk food, but full of home cooked goodness, for which I am eternally grateful.

In true form, I had just acquired Bill Granger’s latest cookbook, Easy. For dinner last night I made Bill’s Spanish Fish Stew… and it was truly delicious, and easy. In fact, if Belinda, Alex, Deb or Elyse are reading this, you MUST make it because it is very much your kind of food.

I used ling fillets and they worked perfectly. The capsicum is a must as it adds sweetness. I added a pinch of sugar with the tomatoes as it cuts through the acidity, and I used chilli flakes instead of cayenne pepper purely because that was what I had on hand.  I’m sure this recipe will become a regular.

Spanish fish stew

from Bill Granger’s Easy

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 celery stick, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon paprika

1 large capsicum, cut into strips

250ml (1 cup) white wine

400g tin diced tomatoes

pinch cayenne pepper

few saffron threads

400ml (1 2/3 cups) fish stock

600g firm white fish fillets, skinned and cut into chunks

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

large handful flat-leaf parsely

lemon wedges

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, paprika and capsicum and cook, stirring for 3 minutes more, until fragrant and the pepper is starting to soften. Pour in the wine and continue cooking until reduced slightly.

Add the tomatoes, cayenne, saffron, fish stock and a pinch of sea salt and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the fish and simmer for 3 minutes, or until the fish is just tender. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. serve in individual bowls with the parsley and lemon wedges.

Thai yellow pumpkin and seafood curry

My most regular dinner guest was away this past weekend so it was the ideal opportunity to cook something she doesn’t like, like fish. Nigella Lawson’s Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry from Nigella Bites was exactly what I felt like.

I first had this curry at my friend Debra’s house almost ten years ago. I raved about it so much she gavethe book to me for my birthday. The recipe is really easy and other than peeling and cleaning the prawns, is really quick to make.

Instead of salmon, I used 250 grams of jew fish and 250 grams of ocean trout. Yellow curry paste is not particularly hot so I used 2 tablespoons. The lime juice is important as it cuts through the creaminess of the coconut milk.

This curry was a hit: always happy when the guests come back for seconds!

Thai Yellow Pumpkin & Seafood Curry

from Nigella Bites

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

400ml tin coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons yellow (or red) Thai curry paste

350ml fish stock

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons palm sugar or caster sugar

3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into three and bruised with the flat of a knife

3 lime leaves, de-stalked and cut into strips

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled and cut into large-bite-sized chunks

500g salmon fillet, preferably organic, skinned and cut into large, bite-sized chunks

500g peeled raw prawns

Pak choi or any other green vegetables of your choice

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, to taste

Coriander, to serve

Method:

Skim the thick creamy top off the tin of coconut milk and put it, over medium heat, into a large saucepan or casserole with the curry paste. Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat milk and paste together until combined.

Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric. Bring to a boil and then add the pumpkin. Cook on a fast simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes, although different sorts of pumpkins can vary enormously in the time they take to cook.

You can cook the curry up till this part in advance, leaving the pumpkin with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you’re about 5 minutes away from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

To the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and prawns (if you’re using the prawns from frozen they’ll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and prawns have cooked through, which shouldn’t take more than 3-4 minutes, stir in any green veg you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits – and tamp down with a wooden spoon.

When the pak choi’s wilted, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat or decant the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the coriander; the point is that the coriander goes in just before serving.

Serve with more chopped coriander for people to add to their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice.