Irish Fish Stew

By • March 12, 2012 • 0 Comments

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Author Notes: Although my Irish ancestors first landed in New York in 1804, their culinary tastes have been passed down to me… somehow. It must be genetic because I don’t recall a single “Irish-themed” dish or meal from childhood. And no, I don’t eat boiled potatoes. Nor do I much care for the pale, overcooked, cliché-traditional foods of Ireland. But if it’s briny, I’m in. Last week I made a fish stew on a cold day. It’s a little bit New England but its roots are very Irish.toast-home-cooking

Serves 4

Fish Stew

  • 2 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼” cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into ¼” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups fish stock (recipe follows)
  • 4 small new potatoes, red skin scrubbed and left on, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 branch of celery, cut into small pieces, about ¼” thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound cod fillets, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 3” chunks (they’ll break up once cooked)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced
  1. In a 4-quart heavy-bottomed pot, heat bacon over a medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is browned. Remove cooked bacon to a small bowl with a slotted spoon, setting aside for later.
  2. In the same pot, add chopped onion and cook 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add flour, stirring for 3 minutes, then add wine and ½ cup of fish stock. Continue stirring as the liquid thickens with the onions and flour. Continue adding the stock in ½ cup increments, stirring occasionally and waiting a few minutes between each addition. This ensures the stew base maintains some thickness.
  4. Once all the stock has been added, bring liquid to the boil and add the potatoes, turnips, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes uncovered, or until the vegetables are just tender.
  5. Add the big chunks of fish and cook for 5 minutes. Gently stir in the cream, cooked bacon and parsley and heat through, just enough until the stew is piping hot and ready to serve. Garnish each serving with a pinch of minced chives.

Fish Stock (makes about 8 cups; freeze leftover)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 3 dried shitake mushroom (optional but good to keep in your pantry for flavor boosting)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 pounds fish heads, bones, fins – or whatever treats your fishmonger gives you… Rinse before using
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 fistful of parsley stems
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, mushrooms, garlic, and fish bones. Increase the heat to high, cover, and cook about 10 minutes. Stir a few times. The ingredients will release their delicious liquid. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently and pressing on the fish bones/heads with a spoon to break them down, until the vegetables and bones are soft and aromatic, about 10 minutes longer.
  2. Add the wine, water, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until stock is rich and flavorful, about 30 minutes.
  3. Strain the stock and discard the solids. The stock can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days or frozen for several months.
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