A good fish stew has three basic parts: the flavour base, the broth and the fish. Each is easy to master. This particular version highlights many of the bright flavours of the Mediterranean. Some would call it a bouillabaisse but I don’t because that makes it sound intimidating, fancy and difficult. It also inspires too many conversations about authenticity. Remember its just fish stew!
fennel bulb, green tops and core removed, white part chopped
garlic cloves, sliced
Tbsp of olive oil
cup of Riesling or other white wine
cup of diced ripe tomatoes or canned tomatoes
Tbsp of fennel seeds
tsp of hot pepper flakes
pinch of saffron threads
cup of fish stock or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Zest of 1 orange
oz of halibut, cut into large chunks
oz of haddock, cut into large chunks
Half of a baguette loaf, sliced diagonally into 1/2 -inch slices
can of anchovies
sticks of butter, soft
cup of parsley, chopped
The juice and zest of 1 lemon
1. In a large soup pot, sauté the fennel, onions and garlic in the olive oil until they soften and smell wonderful. Pour in the wine and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fennel seeds, hot pepper flakes, saffron, bay leaves and fish stock then season with salt and pepper simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. This is just long enough for all the flavours to blend together. Add the orange zest and fish to the simmering soup and stir gently. Let simmer for 5 minutes and serve immediately with anchovy toast.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Put baguette slices onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Place anchovies, butter, parsley and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Using a spatula, scrape butter into a small bowl. Spread the anchovy butter on the toasts and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or so.