Winter Warmer Mediterranean Fish Stew

For all seafood lovers, this delicious winter seafood stew from Lesley Waters is perfect for chilly evenings.

Lesley - Low Res Cover Image(1)For this dish it is essential to use very fresh fish. I cook the prawns with the shells on, as this gives them a better flavour. Serve with crusty fresh bread.

SERVES 4

1 large bulb fennel with herby tops  / 2 tablespoons olive oil / 2 cloves garlic, crushed / 200ml / 7 fl oz dry white wine / 300ml / ½ pint fresh fish stock / 2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes /  pinch sugar / 250g / 9 oz cherry tomatoes, halved / 450g / 1lb sea bream, pollack or monkfish fillet cut into 4cm / 1 ½ inch chunks / 12 large raw prawns, heads removed / 12 mussels scrubbed / salt and freshly ground black pepper / extra virgin olive oil to serve. Pimento paste, to serve

  1. Remove the feathery tops from the fennel bulb, roughly chop and set to one side. Cut the fennel length ways into quarters, remove the core and then finely chop.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Add the fennel and fry for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Stir in the wine, stock, tinned tomatoes and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season well.
  3. Add the monkfish and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the prawns and mussels, cover and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened and the fish is cooked.
  4. To serve, ladle the stew into four deep plates or bowls, scatter over the fennel tops and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve at once with pimento paste if desired.

PIMENTO PASTE – SERVES 4

2 large red peppers / 1 tablespoon olive oil / 25g / 1 oz crustless white bread, soaked in a little water and excess squeezed out / 2 cloves garlic, crushed / 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper / 100ml / 3 ½ fl oz extra virgin olive oil / salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1.  Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F/ gas mark 6.
  2. Place the peppers on a roasting tray, drizzle over the olive oil, place in the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes or until the peppers have slightly blackened, turning them occasionally. Place the peppers in a large plastic food bag, seal and allow to cool.
  3. Remove the peppers from the bag, reserving any of the juices. Peel off the skin, halve and remove the seeds. Place in a food processor with the bread, garlic, cayenne and the pepper juices and whiz until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.
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