Mediterranean fish stew

Mediterranean Fish Stew

Sylvie from lives in France and regularly gets together to cook with her neighbours. This stew is something that she knocked up – we can honestly say that it’s the best fish stew we’ve ever tasted. It’s sensational!

I live in a small close consisting of just four houses and we are a friendly bunch which socializes every now and again at each other’s houses. This always involves eating and drinking of course and lots of conversation and laughter.

There is little fuss involved in cooking a French meal at home and the rules are simple: use fresh ingredients; do not mix too many different flavours on the plate; split the meal up in to separate elements i.e.: starter, main, cheese (always before the dessert and usually served with a green salad); then dessert and/or fresh fruit. Add wine at every opportunity and fresh herbs and you are away!

I had invited the neighbours round last weekend and feeling too lazy to shop or search for recipes, I decided to just use what I had in the fridge and freezer and conjure up a meal out of my head. After the obligatory aperitifs, I began with a simple salad starter of chopped chicory, tomato, red onion and mozzarella topped with basil and a dressing of cider vinegar, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, seasoning and mustard. True to my non-recipe meal, I just felt my way with the measurements and tasted to make sure it was a good balance of flavours.

The main course followed, which was my version of a kind of Mediterranean fish stew:

Serves: 6

  • 1 ½ onions sliced
  • 1 red pepper or a mix of red/orange/yellow chopped
  • A few sticks of celery chopped
  • 1 courgette chopped
  • A few mushrooms sliced
  • 1 glove of garlic chopped or pressed
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Herbs such as bay, basil, tarragon, parsley etc.
  • 1 Chilli or dried chilli to taste

For the fish stock

  • 6 chunky pieces of white fish: meaty like cod or monk fish etc., fresh or frozen but if frozen defrost first and drain off water
  • Prawns fresh or frozen and defrosted and drained
  • Red wine, honey, sugar, seasoning, capful of whisky or brandy
  • A strip of orange peel (without pith) for added flavour
  • Olive oil


Fry the onions slowly in the oil until golden then add pepper and celery and fry for a few minutes.

Add the garlic, courgettes and mushrooms and stir round a little to coat.

Add the tinned tomatoes, booze, herbs, sugar and seasoning.

Add the stock and orange peel (optional) and chilli and honey, throw the cherry tomatoes on top. Cover and leave to simmer gently on top of the stove.

When the veg are cooked allow to cook on a higher heat to reduce the sauce until thicker and tasty. You can save this sauce until you are ready to cook the fish if you wish.

Add the fish pieces, cover and cook gently until tender, about 10-15 minutes and then add the prawns to warm through for a few minutes.

You can then serve this with whatever you like; mash, rice, pasta etc. I served mine with Mustard Mash, just mixing a couple of spoons of wholegrain mustard into the mash along with some olive oil. You could add mussels before you add the prawns and black olives too if you like. Anything goes really ~ then enjoy!

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