When we think of fish dishes we tend to think of long summer days by the sea, enjoying the cool sea breeze and a crisp glass of white. Just because the summer days are behind us there is no reason to strike fresh fish off our menus. Pippa Mattei puts together a few fish dishes that are enjoyable at any time of year, though more so when the temperatures start to drop. Here’s the first one.
- 6 large fresh prawns
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 150ml dry white wine
- 200ml fish stock (or a fish cube)
- 1 small fennel bulb (about 140g) halved and thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 large potato, about 200g
- 1 orange
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 1½ tsp harissa paste
- 2 tbsp tomato puree (kunserva)
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- Handful mussels or clams
- 100g white fish, skin and bones removed and cut into chunks
- 100g scallops, shelled and halved few thyme leaves (if not available use 200g white fish instead)
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- A crusty Maltese ħobża or homemade Irish soda bread
- Twist the heads from the prawns, then peel away the legs and shells, but leave the tails intact. Pull out any dark coloured veins on the back.
- Fry the shells in 1 tbsp oil for 5 mins until dark pink and golden in patches.
- Add the wine and boil down by two thirds, then pour in the stock.
- Strain into a jug, discarding the shells.
- Heat the rest of the oil in a deep frying pan or casserole.
- Add the fennel, onion and garlic, season, then cover and cook gently for 10 mins until softened.
- Peel the potato and cut into 2cm chunks.
- Put into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins until almost tender. Drain in a colander.
- Peel a strip of zest from the orange. Put the zest, star anise, bay leaf and ½ tsp harissa into the pan.
- Fry gently gently, uncovered, for 5-10 mins, until the vegetables are soft, sweet and golden.
- Stir in the tomato puree, cook for 2 mins, then add the tomatoes and stock.
- Simmer for 10 mins until the sauce thickens slightly. Season to taste. (The sauce can be made ahead, then reheated later in the day)
- Scrub the mussels or clams and pull away any stringy ‘beards’. Any that are open should be tapped sharply on the worktop – if they don’t close after a few seconds, discard them.
- Reheat the sauce if necessary, then stir the potato, chunks of fish and prawns very gently into the stew. Bring back to the boil, then cover and simmer gently for 3 mins.
- Scatter the mussels or clams over the stew, then cover and cook for 2 mins more or until the shells have opened wide. Discard any that remain closed.
- The chunks of fish should flake easily and the prawns should be pink through. Scatter with thyme leaves.
- To make the quick rouille, stir the rest of the harissa through the mayonnaise.
- Serve the chowder in bowls, topped with spoonfuls of the rouille, which will melt into the sauce and enrich it.
- The crusty Maltese bread (or soda bread) will mop up the juices.
© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Pippa Mattei