Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Fish Stew with Absinthe

Gently does it...
It sounds hardcore but it's not really. You only use a little slurp of green crazy juice, and to be perfectly honest I only used it because I was out of Pernod (isn't everyone, apart from my Dad?!). I was planning on making this lovely fish stew from my trusty Casa Moro book, but I then discovered my epic fail of an Ocado shop had left me lacking a few bits and bobs, so I changed it quite a bit to suit what I had and it was bloody lovely. This is a light supper (N.B. the Boyfriend wailed with hunger an hour after eating it and had to resort to a mug of Bovril and bread, but it suited me fine). Take your time cooking this, and the simple flavours will all hold hands and create something magical.

Feeds 2. Steep a pinch of saffron in an eggcup of boiling water. Finely chop a small onion and cook gently in olive oil, with a pinch of salt, in a medium saucepan for a good 10 minutes, until gently caramelised. Now add a finely shopped bulb of fennell (save any fronds) and two sliced cloves of garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add a slurp of Absinthe or Pernod and let it bubble for a couple of minutes to get rid of the alcohol. There, see, not so scary now. In a pestle and mortar roughly grind a handful of blanched,
The green fairy
toasted almonds
and add to the pan. Add a good litre of hot water and peeled, diced potatoes (I used one big Maris Piper), the saffron water, lots of seasoning, bring to the boil, and simmer gently, lid off, until the potatoes are just under-cooked. Now for the fish. You can use whatever you like, any little clams, mussels, white fish, squid, anything. I used 150g diced cod and a big handful of raw tiger prawns. Give a gentle stir and simmer for a further two minutes with the lid on. Taste for seasoning, add more if you need it (I found it needed lots of salt), squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and serve in bowls with the chopped fennel fronds on top (use parsley if you don't have enough). Add a final flourish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Some bread is useful to mop up the juices.

This stew really does have the most beautiful delicate fragrance and I'm glad I resisted the urge to go mental on the flavours. Hold back, and you will be rewarded with the most gentle taste sensation. Which, in my case was ruined by the Boyfriend's holler of 'What??? There's no more???' and a request that I make rice pudding  immediately to fill him up.

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