Festive food: Mitch Tonks’ Zuppa de Pescatore

This recipe is a classic Italian fish stew and the beauty is that you can use readily available shellfish and add in whatever is seasonal and available on the counter, making it a good sustainability friendly recipe too.

It is a great family dish for Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or NYE, warming and filling without being heavy or rich like much of the food over Christmas.   Shellfish being held often in tanks or farmed are readily available all through the year and even though many of the fresh fish markets shut down over the holiday period you can freeze fish beforehand as this works perfectly well in this dish.

Zuppa da Pescatore

Ingredients (serves 4):

For the Zuppa

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Olive oil

2 roasted tomatoes

Pinch of saffron

3 or 4 sprigs of thyme

Splash Pernod or anise

Selection of fish, ask your fishmonger what is in season and at its best – lobster, clams, mussels, chunk of skate, steak of hake, gurnard and haddock – buy enough for 4 and to fill the pan packed tightly in one layer

200ml white wine

200ml fish stock

Sea salt

Parsley or basil chopped, for sprinkling over the top

For the Aioli:

2 egg yolks

1 tsp Dijon mustard

4 cloves of garlic, pasted

150ml/5fl oz good olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Sea salt

Grilled bread to serve

To Make the aioli:

Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the mustard and garlic.  Whilst whisking add the olive oil in a steady stream until a thick emulsion is formed.  Add the lemon juice, season, and let it stand an hour before serving.

To make the Zuppa.

In a large pan, sweat the shallots and garlic in olive oil.  Add the tomatoes, saffron and thyme and stir together.  Add the Pernod and tip the pan away from you allowing it to catch fire and burn off the alcohol.  Add the wine and simmer gently for 2 minutes.  Add the fish and add enough fish stock to just cover it.  Simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Remove the thyme and season.  Finally sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and accompany with grilled bread topped with rich, garlicky aioli.

© Mitch Tonks

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One Comment on “Festive food: Mitch Tonks’ Zuppa de Pescatore”

  1. City Girl Says:

    That Zuppa de Pescatore looks amazing! Thank you for sharing the recipe. Absolutely the perfect family dish. I might try it this weekend! x

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