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Author Notes: Nutritionists recommend us to favor the fish protein instead of meat and Portugal is an extraordinary country in terms of the variety of seafood that can be found in the market. However, often, the hardest part is to make the family, especially the younger ones, to be enthusiastic about the meal when fish is on the menu (I know how it is, I have a daughter at home like this). This recipe is therefore a good suggestion for those fish meals we don’t want to look like fish. It is good for those who have kids (the word meatball is magical) but the grownups will also appreciate: it has a different presentation and the creamy saffron sauce is delicious. —Paula
Serves 6 to 8
For the fish meatballs (makes about 30)
- 2 pounds fleshed poached fish, no skin and no bones (choose a firm white fish; I used hake)
- 0,3 pounds fresh bread crumbs
- 200 milliliters milk
- 0,5 pounds onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup parsley
- Zest of half a lemon
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Flour, for dusting
- Olive oil, for frying
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 125 milliliters white wine
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- 250 milliliters vegetable or fish stock
- 0,5 pounds canned tomatoes, diced
- 400 milliliters single cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 0,5 cups parsley, finely chopped
- Start by preparing the fish meatballs. In a bowl, mix the bread crumbs and milk, leave to soak for a few minutes and then squeeze to drain the excess liquid. In a food processor, chop the onion, garlic, bread and fish. Transfer to a large bowl, add the other ingredients and mix to combine. Make small balls and roll in flour to coat. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil and fry the fish meatballs over medium heat until golden all over (If needed, roll the meatballs in flour again before frying them; I did). Remove to paper towels.
- For making the sauce, in a saucepan sauté the leek in butter over medium high heat until soft. Add the white wine and saffron and let it reduce by half. Add the stock and simmer until reduced a little (about a third). Add the tomato and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Blend with the hand blender for a smoother and more homogeneous sauce.
- Add the cream and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Introduce the fish meatballs, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken the sauce.
- Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve with white rice.