Use whatever seafood is fresh, and use several kinds. If in doubt, ask your fishmonger what they would recommend to make a brothy fish stew.
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) your favourite seafood (squid, mussels, clams, prawns (shrimp), monkfish/ stargazer, sea bass)
- 3 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- large pinch of saffron threads dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
- 1 400 g (14 oz) tin good-quality tomatoes
- 3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground
- black pepper
- crusty bread, 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.
For the seafood: Larger fish should be purchased already filleted, with skin removed. Remember that if you are including clams you’ll need to allow 3 hours of soaking time. As a general rule, aim to have everything in bite-sized pieces, although I would recommend leaving prawns whole and still in their shell. Your fishmonger can help with advice on how to clean the seafood you choose to go with.
Preparation time will vary depending on the seafood you use.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan with a lid over medium–low heat. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and any cephalods (squid, octopus, cuttlefish). Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Increase the heat to medium–high and add the vinegar. Cook for a few minutes, then add the saffron and the tomatoes, including the juice in the tin, breaking up any whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Once the tomato sauce has thickened, add half the parsley and then start adding the fish, larger pieces first (monkfish/stargazer, sea bass), then the cleaned mussels or other large bivalves. Prawns and small bivalves such
as clams should be added last. Cook for 10–15 minutes until the fish is cooked through, the bivalve shells have opened (discard any closed ones) and the crustaceans have changed colour. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed. The dish should be quite soupy but if there is too much liquid in the pan, increase the heat briefly and simmer uncovered to allow the excess to evaporate. Scatter on the remaining parsley before serving.
- Serve directly from the pan with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the pan juices. You could also serve it with soft polenta.
Recipe and images from Adriatico by Paola Bacchia, Smith Street Books, RRP $55.00