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Best Fish Stew Recipes

Best Fish Stew Recipes

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Fish Stew Shopping Tips

A fresh fish should not smell fishy nor have milky, opaque eyes; it should have bright red gills, firm flesh, and a tight anal cavity.

Fish Stew Cooking Tips

Whole fish should be stored upright in ice in the refrigerator.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 1 ½ pounds sea bass fillets, cut into chunks
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Bring water and rice to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook and stir just until onions start to get soft, 3 or 4 minutes. Add tomato paste, garlic, paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking about 3 minutes. Pour in coconut milk and add soy sauce. When mixture starts to bubble, let it simmer about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, and green onions. Let mixture come back to a simmer. Transfer fish to skillet stir. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until fish starts to flake, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt, cilantro, and lime juice stir carefully to avoid breaking up the fish. Serve with rice.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced shallots
  • salt
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, trimmed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound boneless rockfish filets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook and stir leek, shallots, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the melted butter until softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir wine into leek mixture, increase heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Mix fennel and potatoes into leek mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are nearly tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add cream and stir to combine.

Stir fish and tarragon into soup, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir gently, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

What you need

Here’s what you need to make Brazilian Fish Stew. See? I promised they were all “normal” ingredients.

Virtually any fish fillets will work here, though I’d avoid fish that dries out easily such as swordfish, kingfish, bonito and tuna. I’ve used snapper below. Other popular fish that will work well here include: tilapia, salmon, cod, basa, catfish, barramundi, bream, ling, John dory / Silver dory. See the recipes notes for more suggestions.

(Tip: These fish selection guidelines are good for any recipes where fish are braised or poached like this, such as Chinese Rice Soup and Goan Fish Curry.)

I remember the first time I saw this Brazilian Fish Stew recipe, I was a bit dubious that the sauce would have sufficient flavour with so few ingredients for the sauce. It gets a helping hand by searing the fish in the pan first. The golden bits left in the pan (it’s called fond) after searing the fish adds a good hit of savoury flavour into the sauce.

Fisherman’s stew recipe:

Ingredients for broth:

  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, or fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for the Irish seafood stew:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ very thinly sliced fennel bulb (must be fresh!!)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 8 ounces firm white fish, halibut or sea bass, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
  • 8 peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 8 ounces cleaned, ready to cook calamari
  • 12 muscles, scrubbed clean
  • 12 clams, scrubbed clean
  • Salt to taste
  • Crusty bread on the side (great for dipping!)

Step by Step Guide for the Irish seafood stew:

1. Combine tomatoes, red pepper flakes and water into a medium sized bowl. Pour all into a blender or food processor- blend until smooth. Set aside

2. Cut white fish into 1 ½ chunks to match the other seafoods size. Set aside. Clean all other seafood and set aside.

3. Melt butter and olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.

4. Add in sliced fennel, garlic and salt. Cook and stir until the garlic takes on color – about 1 minute. Stir in white wine. Let it simmer until reduced by about half – 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Combine tomato puree and white wine mixture. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil until fennel is tender – 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and add seasonings as needed.

6. Stir in parsley, white fish, shrimp and calamari. Then add in clams and mussels. Cover, increase heat to high and cook until clam and mussel shells open. White fish, shrimp and calamari should be opaque in color – about 5 minutes of cooking.

7. You’re done! Pour into serving bowls, add some chunky bread on the side and pour yourself an Irish Whiskey.

Not a fan of Irish Whiskey? Check out some of these other amazing international drinks to add on the side of your Fisherman’s Stew!

I Make This Spicy Korean Fish Stew When I Just Need to Sweat It Out

The only thing better than a good recipe? When something's so easy to make that you don't even need one. Welcome to It's That Simple, a column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.

Koreans have an expression, “shiwonhada” (시원하다)—literally, “intensely refreshing and cooling”—that describes the sensation when you feel cool after eating something hot in temperature. Add spiciness to that party and you'll take shiwonhada to the next level. To me, the dish that perfectly captures this experience is the spicy fish stew called maeuntang (매운탕). There’s nothing better than dipping a spoonful of this spicy, savory stew into a bowl of steaming white rice.

When I was growing up in Seoul, I remember my grandmother hurrying home from the local fish market to prepare this stew for our family. As she prepared the dish, its scent would waft through the house, making my stomach rumble. Because the current Stay At Home order has given me more time to revisit dishes that bring back fond memories, I recently committed my grandmother’s recipe to paper (with a few phone calls to my mother for moral support).

The two components to the stew are broth and seasoning paste. To make the broth, take 2 pounds of cleaned whole fish (bass, perch, cod, pollock, or flounder) and cut into 2" pieces, including the head. Cut about 1 pound Korean radish into bite-size slices. Add the fish and radish to a pot along with the whites of 1 leek, thinly sliced, 1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced, and a big pinch of dried anchovies (approximately 10 pieces). Cover with cold water (about 4 cups) and set over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce your heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Everything you need for the broth.

Photo and Food Styling by Paul Wang

While your broth is simmering, make the seasoning paste: In a bowl, add 2 tablespoons gochugaru, a couple turns of ground black pepper, ½ tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon doenjang or miso, ½ tablespoon gochujang, and 4 cloves finely grated garlic. Whisk it all together until it forms a nice paste. (I like to double up on this paste and save the other half to use in a pasta dish for a kick! The paste will keep in your fridge for up to two weeks. You’re welcome.)

Now back to the broth: Once it’s been simmering for 20 minutes, gently strain out the pieces of fish into a separate bowl, leaving the fish head in the pot. Add your seasoning paste into the simmering broth and gently mix to disperse. Turn your heat to high and boil your broth for 15 more minutes. Remove the broth from from heat and discard of that fish head. Your liquid should now look like a velvety stew. Finally, take the fish you saved earlier and gently submerge them back into the stew. That’s it!

You can eat it right then, but I will say that it’s so much better the next day, once all of its contents have had time to marinate overnight (a very crucial step in developing flavors in anything stewed). So consider making it for your future self. Put a lid on your stew and leave it overnight. (Don’t worry, it won’t go bad—Korean grandmothers don’t refrigerate stews.) The next day, bring it back up to a simmer for a few minutes and serve alongside a bowl of steamed rice. Insider’s tip: Taste the radish prior to heating the soup back up. I love sinking my teeth into the cool, marinated radish straight out of the pot.

Most of the ingredients in the seasoning paste are shelf-stable pantry items that are great building blocks for many Korean dishes. You'll be able to find these ingredients at a local Asian market, which could really benefit from your business right now. Most have a seafood section in the back where you can choose your fish and they will generously clean it for you, so you don’t even have to get your hands dirty. But if you're trying to reduce trips to the store, here are a few substitution ideas (only if you must!):

  • Instead of a whole fish, use 1 can of sardines in oil (add your sardines and the oil at the very end)
  • Use a few extra dashes of fish sauce instead of dried anchovies
  • Slice up turnips in place of the Korean radish

There’s no other dish that makes my mouth water just at the thought, that brings a sense of togetherness with my family members who live thousands of miles away, or that gives that “shiwonhada” sensation. May it keep you cool and refreshed during this heated time.

Paul Wang was one of the opening chefs at Nonesuch, BA's best new restaurant of 2018. He is currently working as a private chef in Seattle.

Prep the fish: de-scale fish and cut into steak, add to a bowl and rinse with water and lemon juice. Then transfer the fish to a colander to drain excess moisture.

Marinate the fish: add garlic granules, onion powder, ginger powder, parsley and 1 teaspoon of bouillon powder to the fish and mix to combine. Cover it with a cling film and marinate for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, grill the fish for a total of 20 minutes, 10 minutes on each side

While waiting for the fish to finish grilling or frying, blend the peppers and bring to boil on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Cook the stew: place a pan on medium heat, add vegetable oil and heat until hot. Add chopped onions and stir fry until translucent. Then carefully add the boiled pepper to the oil and bring to boil for about 10 minutes.

Season the stew with salt and bouillon powder to taste, stir to combine and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until you can see the oil floating on top of the stew.

Add the grilled fish to the stew and carefully mix to combine. Shred fresh basil or scent leaves to the stew and cover the pan with its lid. Continue to cook on low heat for another 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and serve immediately.


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Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco in the 1930s, when fishermen brought their fresh catch to the docks and a little bit of everything was added to the soup pot the workers shared—which is one urban-legend explanation for the name some sources claim “cioppino” was Italian-American slang for “chip in”. In reality, it derives from a Ligurian soup called ciuppin, which literally means chopped. The base of the stew is a wonderfully garlicky tomato broth with white wine and herbs, but the type of seafood you use is endlessly adaptable, so don’t feel constrained by this specific recipe (which was inspired, in part, by two of our Chowhound users, nstrada and giod).

Variations: The whole point is to use whatever’s freshest, and whatever you like best, so add crab or lobster, or double up on the shrimp and cut out the mussels, even try adding salmon in place of the firm white fish, or a little sliced calamari at the very end of cooking just shoot for about 5 pounds of seafood in total. Some people like to sauté a little chopped celery and carrot along with the onion, and even a bit of bell pepper for additional sweetness, but we’ve gone light on the vegetables in general to really highlight the seafood. Feel free to add more to your mirepoix if you prefer.

Serve with: Garlic bread or toasted sourdough—perfect for mopping up all the rich, sweet, garlicky tomato broth left in the bowl.

Make ahead: You can make the broth a day or so ahead and refrigerate it, which can help to meld the flavors, then bring it back to a gentle simmer and cook the seafood in it just prior to serving.

Step 1. Wash the fish in lime/lemon and vinegar wash.

Step 2. Pour away all the water and dry the fish.

Step 3. Seasoning the fish with salt and black pepper.

Step 4. Add enough cooking oil to a frying pan at high heat.

Step 5. Once the oil is smoking hot, add chopped garlic, the whole bonnet peppers and pimento berries.

Step 6. Add the fish and fry until both sides are golden brown.

Step 7. Remove the burned garlic, scotch pepper and pimento berries. Pour away the frying oil leaving about a tablespoon in the pan.

Step 8. Add chopped tomato, bell pepper, onion, crushed garlic, chopped scotch bonnet pepper, scallion, thyme and pimento berries. Sauté for three minutes.

Step 8. Add water, browning and salt, stir. Cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the fried fish halfway through.

Step. Simmer until sauce is reduced.

Recipe Summary

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 large celery ribs, thinly sliced, plus 1/4 cup leaves
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small lemon, scrubbed and quartered
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • One 1 1/2-pound halibut steak on the bone
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
  • Crusty bread, for serving

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the onion, leek, garlic, celery ribs and leaves, parsley and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, 8 minutes. Add the lemon and wine and simmer over moderately high heat until the wine is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Add the stock and simmer over moderate heat until reduced by one-third, 5 minutes.

Season the halibut with salt and pepper and add it to the casserole. Cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the halibut and add the mussels. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the mussels open, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer the stew to a deep dish and serve right away with bread.


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