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Seafood Stew

Food

To me, cooking seafood (I’m talking prawns, calamari and anything in a shell) seems like something other people do. It just seems like a very grown-up type of thing to cook at home, and well… a little daunting.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura proves today that preparing fresh seafood at home in fact can be super quick and straightforward.  Today she shares with us her deceptively simple one-pot seafood stew, and as usual, she makes it look easy.

21st April, 2015

Seafood Stew ingredients. Handmade plates by Jessilla Rogers. Recipe – Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Styling – Natalie Turnbull, Photo – Eve Wilson.

Seafood Stew. Handmade plates by Jessilla Rogers. Cutipol Gold Cutlery from Francalia. Recipe – Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Styling – Natalie Turnbull, Photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura and ceramicist Jessilla Rogers at the table. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura of Ostro
Tuesday 21st April 2015

I was always so amazed when my Mum would make this stew as child. She would turn a fish head and some scrappy vegetables into the most amazing meal, bulked out with rice to feed our big family. With my dad migrating to Australia from Malta as a young adult, and my mum being first generation Australian (my maternal grandparents also migrated from Malta), making use of ends and bits was normal. It was in fact a celebration of how resourceful the cook could be, to create something satisfying and nourishing for their family.

My version is a little more dressed up than my mother’s version, but can easily be made the same way using basic fish offcuts. Any seafood can be also added, like blue swimmer crab, mussels or scallops (just be aware of cooking times).The combination of fennel and seafood is one that I love. But if you’re not a fennel lover, don’t let it put you off this recipe, I suggest omitting just the fennel seeds, as they are more pungent than the sweet bulb itself.

I really love eating this stew with a grilled baguette rubbed with olive oil and garlic, or as my mum did, with a scattering of rice, which you add raw into the broth 15 or so minutes before serving.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the stew

Extra virgin olive oil

1 small bulb of fennel, finely diced, fronds reserved for garnish

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

250ml white wine

500ml fish stock or water

250ml pasata

300g uncooked medium prawns, peeled, tails intact, deveined

250g pipis, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and rinsed

400g piece of rockling or other firm white fish, bones and skin removed, cut into 3cm pieces

2 calamari (approx. 450g), cleaned and sliced into rings

1 tbsp Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Reserved fennel fronds

 

To Serve

8 slices of baguette

Extra virgin olive oil

Lemon wedges

Reserved fennel fronds

Method

In a large pot, heat a big lug of extra virgin olive oil. Add the fennel, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and fennel seeds. Saute over a low heat for 10-15 minutes or until soft and translucent.

Add the white wine and simmer for five minutes, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the stock or water and the passata. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the broth to reduce and the flavours develop.

Add the seafood to the stew and gently stir to cover. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until seafood is just cooked through and pipis have opened.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan on high and drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil. Grill the bread on each side until toasted and slightly charred, Rub the toasted bread with the cut side of the garlic and set aside.

Discard any unopened pipis, check for seasoning and serve stew in individual serving bowls with wedges of lemon, the reserved fennel fronds, chopped parsley and the toasted baguette.

 

 

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