This is a simplified version of the famed fishermen’s stew from the Catalan region of Spain. There, cooks use a variety of fish and thicken the stew with picada, a sauce-base made using dried chillies, garlic, fried bread, olive oil and pounded toasted nuts (hazelnuts or almonds). Use a mix of your favorite firm white fish – snapper, barramundi, bream, blue eye or bream, for example – or just one type, as we've done here.
- 60 g (½ cup) slivered almonds
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- 60 ml (¼ cup) boiling water
- 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 red capsicum, trimmed, seeded and cut into 2 cm pieces
- 2½ tsp sweet paprika
- 1½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 300 ml dry sherry
- 300 ml fish or chicken stock
- 1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- 750 g monkfish fillets, cut into 4 cm pieces
- handful coriander, coarsely chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 30 minutes
Heat oven to 180ºC. Place the almonds in a small roasting dish and roast for about 4-5 minutes, tossing halfway through, until golden. Transfer to a food processor and process until finely ground the set aside. Combine the saffron and boiling water in a cup and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and capsicum and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomato paste, paprika, smoked paprika and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the sherry and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until the sherry has reduced slightly, then add the stock, tomatoes and saffron mixture, stirring to combine well. Bring to a simmer and season well with salt and pepper. Add the ground almonds and cook for 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens slightly, then add the fish, stirring to submerge it. Simmer fish for 3-5 minutes or until it is cooked through. Divide mixture among bowls and serve scattered with coriander.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.