19/10/2011

Italian Inspired Fish Stew

Each coastal town in Italy boasts its own fish stew as the best. Perhaps the best known is from Naples - Neapolitan Fish Stew, or La Zuppa di Pesce Napoletana.

Common to all is the simple combination of locally caught fish, shellfish, tomato and herbs.

Inspired by these hearty and honest soups, I set about putting my own together.

Something fishy this way comes ...

Begin by pouring a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil into a sauté pan and toss in some chopped onion to soften.

I deviated a little and dropped in a good helping of finely sliced chestnut mushrooms - maybe 6 or 8, to help bulk out the dish which is often bulked with bread in Italy.

Pour in a can of peeled plum tomatoes, pulp down and stir in. Add a squirt of tomato purée and a couple of cloves worth of sliced garlic. Pour over some fish stock - maybe half a pint. Set to simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare all manner of fish and shellfish.

I used some pollock, squid, mussels, clams and scallops. Any fish, sea or fresh water, any shellfish, octopus, anything from the sea will do.

Toss the fish into the pan, prepare and cook items like mussels, clams, squid and so on in a frying pan and toss into the sauté pan as each are done. I went with squid first, mussels and clams second and finally the scallops just before serving.

Chop a very generous amount of parsley and toss into the sauté pan, seasoning further with freshly milled black pepper and a little sea salt if desired.

Serve out over some courgette linguine from juliennes of courgette tossed in a hot frying pan for a few minutes to soften.

I went a little further and wilted down some spinach to place on top and crown with a fresh pomodorino tomatoes and pickled chillis.

Finally, since bread features so highly in Italian cuisine I made up some Pão de Queijo, inspired by Paul Jaminet from his 'Perfect Health Diet' weblog.

I supplanted the butter with olive oil, added in some minced garlic, replaced some of the milk content with soured cream and used pecorino instead of parmesan for an extra sour taste.

Bellissimo!

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