Cioppino

cioppino 2

Cioppino is a Californian fish stew, drawing its roots from Italian regional fish soups and stews. It’s delightfully light but satisfying to eat: think paella but without the rice.

The whole idea of a stew like this is to make use of what ingredients you have: vary up the fish and shellfish, the capsicum could be subbed out for fennel, the silverbeet could become cavolo nero.

Lois’ original recipe makes an enormous feast for eight. I’ve given quantities to make enough for four.

Cioppino (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Good Food, p.24)

olive oil, couple of good sloshes for the pan

1 large onion, chopped

1 red or green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup dry red wine or white wine

1 cup fish stock

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary

bunch silverbeet leaves, stems removed, leaves shredded

500gm firm white fish (moki, monkfish, trevally)

12 fresh mussels in the shell

12 fresh clams in the shell

handful fresh parsley, chopped

to serve: crusty baguette (Acme, if you live in Wellington) & lemon 

First make the sauce. In a wide frying pan for which you have a lid, sauté the chopped onion and capsicum until really soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute further before adding the tomatoes, wine, stock, herbs, and seasonings. Bring to boil, then lower heat and leave to simmer while you prepare the seafood.

De-beard the mussels and use a metal scratchy cleaner to clean the outside of the mussel and clam shells. Cut the fish into 3cm pieces.

Once the sauce is starting to thicken, add the silverbeet leaves, arrange the mussels on top, and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer and steam for 3 minutes. Remove lid and add clams and fish; recover the pan with the lid and leave for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove lid; the mussels and clam shells should have opened. If not, place lid back on and leave for further 1-2 minutes.

Once the shells have opened, sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and take the whole impressive pan to the table: you know what to do next.

Summer fish bowl

summer fish bowl

Despite the summery ambition in its title, this is the perfect spring dinner. It’s a wonderful way to use new season potatoes and asparagus. It’s light and fresh-tasting, yet still substantial. I can see this becoming a regular weeknight dinner at my place.

Summer fish bowl (adapted from Lois Daish, A Good Year, p. 31)

2 large potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3-4cm pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, thinly sliced

1 celery stalk, thinly slicely

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1-2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

1/2 cup white wine (dry riesling or sauvignon blanc)

6-8 low acid tomatoes (when tomatoes aren’t in season, substitute a can of tomatoes, drained of juice)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

pinch saffron stamens

pinch cayenne pepper

fresh thyme leaves

1 1/2 cups fish stock, chicken stock or water with a splash of fish sauce

bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and the spears cut into lengths

chopped fresh leafy herbs, such as parsley and oregano

500g fresh fish

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place potato cubes into a pot and over with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot and add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel. Fry gently for about ten minutes until starting to caramelise, then add the garlic. Fry again briefly and pour on the wine. Allow to bubble up for 1-2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, seasonings and thyme. Cook for a few minutes more, then add the liquid and simmer for 20 minutes until everything is tender. Check to see if it needs more salt and pepper. Add the asparagus spears and continue to simmer gently while you grill the fish.

Preheat your oven grill. Prepare the fish by cutting into large pieces. Place in a rimmed baking dish, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slide the fish under the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it is barely opaque right through. Transfer the fish into a shallow heated bowl, add the cooked potatoes, pour over any juices from the pan into the pot of sauce and ladle the sauce over the top.

Lemon & orange escabeche

fish

Lois’ escabeche is a lovely way to make pan-fried fish just a little bit more interesting. An acidic dressing of lemon and orange juice is combined with white wine, chillies and spring onion. It’s perfect served with some lightly steamed broccoli or new season aspargagus (!!) and steamed or roasted kumara.

Lemon & orange escabeche (Lois Daish, Good Food, 24)

1 orange

1 lemon

1 small chilli

1 small red onion or 3 spring onions

1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

500g terakihi or gurnard fillets

flour for dusting the fish

oil for frying

Remove the zest from the orange and lemon, cut in half and squeeze out the juice and put together in a bowl. Finely chop the chilli (remove the seeds if you prefer) and onion and add these to the zest and juice, along with the white wine vinegar, wine and water.

Dust the fish fillets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fillets for a couple of minutes on one side before turning over. Cook for a further minute and then pour over the marinade. Continue to fry for a further couple of minutes until the marinade is bubbling and has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and serve. Remember that the fish will continue to cook once the pan has been removed from the heat – don’t overcook it.

Fish steamed with broccoli

Barbara henderson broccoli

Broccoli illustration by Barbara Henderson, Good Food, p. 132.

One of the first meals I learnt to make was a one pan dinner: an Alison Holst recipe comprising mince, frozen peas, a can of condensed tomato soup and dried pasta. As constantly hungry teenagers, my sister and I made this ‘hearty’ dish repeatedly on our weekly cooking nights until mum could bear it no longer and it was banned from the kitchen. If only I had known about Lois’ own version of a ‘one pan dinner’ to substitute in its place.

Lois’ fish steamed with broccoli is a lovely healthy and fresh-tasting dinner in which everything is cooked together in the same pan. Simple to make, hardly any dishes to do afterwards and, most importantly, it’s really delicious.

Fish steamed with broccoli (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 24-5)

1 tablespoon olive oil

500gm fresh boneless fillets of firm white fish (I used gurnard)

1 cup of water

1 head broccoli, cut into florets 

small bunch of spring onions, sliced

Some, or all of the following ingredients:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 small leek, washed and sliced

2 rashers bacon, finely diced

fresh herbs – parsley, thyme, or oregano

freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based wide saucepan. Add whatever ingredients from the list you have on hand and fry together gently until the mixture softens and takes on a golden tint. Add a cup of cold water and lay the fillets of fish on top. Arrange the broccoli and spring onions over the top, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 5 minutes until the fish is opaque and broccoli is bright green and still crunchy. Serve immediately with boiled potatoes, plain rice or some crusty bread.