Mediterranean Seafood Stew
The sauce for this dish freezes really well, so you can make large batches and freeze it. Take out a portion before you go to work to defrost so that when you get home you only have to reheat it and add the seafood and herbs. Just be careful not to boil the seafood, as it will overcook and turn tough.
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 head of fennel, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, grated
150ml white wine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
500ml fish stock
pinch of caster sugar (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
600g selection of firm white fish (such as cod, hake, monkfish) and seafood (prawns and scallops)
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
First you need to peel the tomatoes. To do this, bring a pot of water to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Have a bowl of iced water on the side. Remove the core of each tomato by inserting a small knife into the tomato at a slight angle, just deep enough to remove the core, and cutting in a circle. Then cut a small X in the bottom of the tomato. Carefully place the tomatoes in the pot of simmering water. Once the skin begins to lift away from the X, remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of iced water. Once the tomatoes are cool, the skin will peel off easily and you can chop them.
Place a pot on a medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, fennel and garlic. Reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft but not coloured.
Add the wine and leave to simmer until the wine has reduced to half its original volume. Add the tinned and fresh chopped tomatoes and the fish stock and cook for 30 minutes, then taste the sauce. Tinned tomatoes can be a little acidic, so if that's the case, then add a little sugar and taste again. Be careful, however, as even half a teaspoon can make a big difference. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the fish and seafood and place the lid on the pot. Gently simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the fish, prawns and scallops are all cooked through.
Garnish with the chopped fresh parsley and serve straightaway.
Extracted from The Cookery School, Donnybrook Fair by Niall Murphy (Mercier Press, €22.99). Photograph by Rob Kerkvliet.