This is a really easy and brilliant fish stew that’s perfect for any occasion from a quick supper to a party or even Christmas if you aren’t into a traditional roast. Add lobster or prawns to make it feel more celebratory, or use cheaper fish and mussels for a more frugal recipe. The chilli lifts the whole dish and makes it a really exciting thing to eat. I love having the background warmth of dried chilli and the kick of fresh chilli oil.
- olive oil, for cooking
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed, flesh finely chopped, fronds reserved
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 mild red chillies, finely chopped
- 1 pinch dried chilli flakes
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) white wine
- 2 x 125 g (4¾ oz) red mullet or red snapper fillets
- 200 g (7½ oz) clams, scrubbed and rinsed
- 200 g (7½ oz) mussels, scrubbed and rinsed with beards removed
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 thick slices bread, toasted, to serve
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.
Heat some oil in a large, wide, heavy-based pan (with a lid). Gently fry the onion, celery, fennel flesh, garlic and half the chopped chilli with a pinch each of salt and dried chilli flakes for 8 minutes or until soft. Stir in the tomato and a dash of water and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
Turn the heat up and pour in the wine. Turn down and leave to simmer for 3 minutes until the liquid has slightly reduced.
Cut the fish into large chunks, season well, and add in a single layer, pushing the pieces down so they are covered by the liquid. Cook gently for 3 minutes, then add the clams and mussels. Stir gently to combine, then place the lid on the pan and leave to steam for 3 minutes until the clams and mussels have opened. (Discard any clams or mussels that don’t open.)
Place the remaining chopped chilli in a small bowl and cover generously with oil. Divide the fish stew between 2 bowls, sprinkle with the parsley and fennel fronds and spoon the chilli oil on top. Serve with toast, drizzled with more chilli oil.
Read about Emma Grazette’s spice journey through Oaxaca, Mexico.