Fish stew many ways

Fish stew many ways

Stews are a great 'trick' up the kitchen sleeve - endlessly adaptable and dead easy. Fish stews have the advantage of cooking quickly too.

Try this on fish haters

I made a fish stew the other day - it always feels like a special occasion.
Not because it's a big deal (it's neither fancy nor complicated) but because our nearest fishmonger is 25 miles away so we don't eat fish as often as I'd like. When we get to do the trip we try and stock up: a couple of options to be cooked fresh on successive days and a few things for the freezer too. What we freeze is usually perfect for a fishstew.

Stews (of any kind) are a great 'trick' up the kitchen sleeve - endlessly adaptable, super tasty and dead easy. Fish stews have the advantage of being quite quick to cook. At a push you can even add the fish still frozen if your planning fails (mine does often). Plus you can easily stretch it to feed you for 2 days (more on that later).

I usually take a fish stew in one of two basic directions: Mediterranean with tomato or Asian with coconut milk. Regardless, I always use the same pattern for a fish stew:

  • Make a base of softened onions plus aromatics.
  • Add extra veggies, herbs and spices
  • Add a liquid
  • Cook until veggies have softened and flavours have melded
  • Add pieces of fish, continue cooking gently for a few more minutes until fish has turned from translucent to opaque.
  • Finish with a squeeze of lemon and some fresh herbs if you have any (I always have some in the freezer)
  • Serve as it is, or with rice, noodles or crusty bread (I prefer putting in enough veggies so I don't need anything extra).

You can play around as much as you like with the ingredients and take off to many different flavour destinations - let's stick to two for now:


For me that means herbs, tomatoes and sweet veggies to offset the sharpness of the tomato.

  • aromatics: leeks, celery, celeriac, fennel, garlic
  • herbs & spices: bayleaf, saffron, dill, parsley, fennel seed
  • veggies: I unapologetically use anything I have to hand, preferably several different ones. Fennel is especially lovely in combination with fish and tomato. (For the record, the other day I used fennel, a piece of celeriac, a carrot, and some finely sliced sprout tops.)
  • fish: Ideally you want to use a kind of fish that can hold up to vibrant flavours (monkfish, is a favourite, haddock or hake also come to mind, I'm sure there are others).


Call it a fish curry if you like - my culinary image here is of punchy ginger and lemongrass offset by sweet silky coconut milk.

  • aromatics: spring onion, ginger, turmeric, garlic, lemongrass
  • herbs & spices: basil, coriander, 5spice, turmeric, curry leaves, soy sauce
  • liquid: coconut milk
  • veggies: as above, use anything you have. Dense veggies like roots are best used finely cubed or sliced so they cook faster.
  • Fish: again, you want something that can take some flavour. If unsure, ask your fishmonger!

Any leftovers eat well the next day. If there is not quite enough there are many ways to stretch the portions: add a tin of tomatoes, add extra veggies (quick cooking greens are best), add rice noodles or pasta, add a tin of beans or lentils (Did you know fish and bean is a thing?)

Armed with all these ideas, I wonder which direction you are you taking your fish stew into?

Categories: COOK, EXPLORE


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