Sunday, April 28, 2013

Basque Fish Stew

Last week we had another of our gorgeous girls dinners and this time it was my turn to host.

I have to admit to mild entertaining anxiety, but I managed to contain it by keeping everything pretty simple.

Because I'm not a great cook, I opted for a menu that could be prepared largely in advance and then only needed a few elements done on the spot.  This has the double advantage of avoiding cooking under pressure and also keeping me at the table rather than in the kitchen.

I served halloumi salad with grapes for entree, which was okay but I wasn't totally in love with it.  I felt that while each of the elements were tasty, the flavours didn't really pull together.  It seemed somehow better on paper.  I don't think I'll make this one again, there are better starters out there.

The Basque Fish Stew however was a winner.  The flavours were tangy, spicy, and yum and it really wasn't difficult at all.  There are plenty of recipes out there and this is a combination of versions from Woman&Home and Williams-Sonoma among others.  I used fish fillets, prawns and mussels, but if you aren't as fearful of seafood as me then baby octopus is an authentic addition.

I really love our little dinners and can't wait for the next one, and not just because all I'll have to do is turn up with a bottle of wine.


Basque Fish Stew

Serves 6
250g Spanish smoked chorizo evenly sliced
1/4 cup oil
1 onion finely chopped
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 strips orange zest
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans rinsed
3 x 400g tins diced tomato
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or 1 cup white wine)
500ml fish stock (dilute with water if too salty, I found Campbell's brand lovely and mild)
500g prawns peeled & deveined, tails on
500g mussels cleaned
500g white flesh fish such as basa, hake, sole or hallibut (it needs to hold it's shape when cooked in the stew) 
Flat leaf parsley chopped and torn baguette to serve
In a heavy based casserole dish warm the oil add the chorizo and cook until browned.  Set aside.
(NB: this may seem like a lot of oil but it provides the base for the stew so don't skimp!)
Add onion, garlic, oregano, thyme and cook until golden.
Stir in vinegar or wine and reduce to approx 1 tbsp.
Stir in tomato cayenne pepper, paprika and tomato paste.
Add stock, tomatoes, orange zest and bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer.
Add beans.
*This part of the stew can be made ahead and really benefits from lots of cooking on a low heat. Watch the flavours develop and change, the heat from the pepper really drops away and the citrus is enhanced.  I made this about 4 hours before serving.*
About an hour before serving season your seafood, chop fish into 2 cm square pieces and return to the fridge.
About 10 minutes before serving return the chorizo to the stew.
About 6 minutes before serving add your mussels, prawns then fish stirring gently.
Remove orange zest and discard.
Ladel into warm serving bowls, garnish with parsely and serve with baguette.

Do you have a favourite dinner party dish?

Listen to: Tom Waits Eggs And Sausage

Image Sourced at Woman&Home