Now we are back in England after a somewhat stressful move from China and before we head off on our next adventure to Peru, I wanted to make the most of local ingredients and especially local suppliers. I have been meaning to make something along the lines of this recipe for a while and variations seem to be popping up all over the place as it is the perfect summer dish. I couldn’t think of a better first recipe post than this.
So to the recipe, it is a Mediterranean inspired fish, bean and tomato dish with a little paprika and chilli flakes for heat. The final dish is as sunny and colourful as a bright English summers day. I came across a new fishmongers in Tooting today, called Life of Fish (www.lifeof.fish). David was very knowledgable and had a good selection of fish and seafood. I bought some beautiful portions of cod and salmon. This beautiful cod was the base for this dish.
First of all, it would be best to prepare the ingredients as they all go into the pot pretty much simultaneously. You will need to slice the two garlic cloves, dice the onion. With the fennel, slice half and dice the other.
Followed by the selection of tomatoes, I used cherry tomatoes as I couldn’t get hold of some plum tomatoes that were ripe enough. One of the special ingredients that adds a depth to this dish is the sun-dried tomatoes. They add a sweet, tangy and salty flavour to the stew. Adding a bit of the oil enhances the flavour also.
Once all the components are prepared, it is time to start. In a deep saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the pan is ready, add the onions, garlic and the fennel. Give it stir and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.
Once the base ingredients have soften nicely, you can add the tomatoes, paprika and chilli flakes (if using), and stir together. Leave for a few minutes to begin cooking the tomatoes.
The final stage of the stew is to add the wine to deglaze the pot. Finally, add the beans and leave the stew to cook for about 10 minutes till all the vegetables are softened.
Now on to cooking the fish. About 10 minutes before you want to cook the fish, take it out of the fridge and cover with rock salt. This will help to firm up the flesh and help it cook more evenly.
Before cooking, wash the salt off under the tap. Heat the olive oil in the pan, and place the seasoned fish skin side down in the pan. Leave for about 2-3 minutes, do not be tempted to poke, move or shake the pan. Turn the fish over and cook for another 2-3 minutes flesh side down until it has a lovely golden colour. The flesh should be just opaque but still with a bit of give when pressed.
Before you plate the dish, stir the spinach through the stew, leave it just long enough for it to wilt. Spoon some of the stew into a warmed bowl and place the fish on top, crispy skin side up. Enjoy!
Pan-fried cod on a tomato and bean stew