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Fish Stew with Tomatoes and Capers

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On a time-pressed evening, when I was dreaming about bouillabaisse, this preparation brought a little bit of Mediterranean magic to our light dinner.

H-E-B was selling brown shrimp from the Gulf, for less than $7 per pound, so I bought shrimp plus a big, meaty fillet of flounder. A can of San Marzano tomatoes, fresh thyme, bay leaf, a dash of white wine, plenty of garlic and capers produced a warm and satisfying meal for two. The only thing I might suggest to have with it would be slices of crusty bread.

If you have mussels, oysters, squid or other seafood, it can easily be added to the stew.

A few ingredients and gentle cooking produce a Mediterranean-flavored dish.

Fish Stew with Tomatoes and Capers

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 large can San Marzano (or other) tomatoes, diced or broken up by hand, with juice
1/4 cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc or other dry Italian white)
1 large bay leaf
Several sprigs each fresh thyme, Italian parsley and/or fresh fennel leaf
1 pound medium shrimp in shells, uncooked
Salt, white pepper, for seasoning
1 pound flaky, firm white fish, such as cod or flounder, cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons capers

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pan. Add the garlic and fry over medium heat until it is just lightly browned, but not crisp. Pour in the tomatoes and juice, along with the white wine, bay leaf and herbs. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for a few minutes.

In another saucepan, put the shrimp in and cover them with water. Salt lightly. Bring shrimp to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat and let them cool in the cooking water.

When the tomatoes have simmered and reduced a little, and the shrimp are beginning to cool, take about a cup of the shrimp broth and stir it into the tomatoes. Let the broth simmer another few minutes. Taste for seasoning. Then, place the chunks of fish into the tomatoes, submerging them in the broth and bring it back to a simmer.  While the fish is cooking, peel the shrimp (they should be still warm, but cooled enough to handle). Trim off any dark vein, as needed. Put the shrimp into the soup with the fish and let it cook another minute or so. Add capers.

To serve, spoon out several chunks of fish and shrimp and put in a soup bowl. Ladle broth and tomatoes over the fish and shrimp.

Serves 4

From Bonnie Walker




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