Fragrant Fish Stew

January 23, 2011

Author Notes: I created this dish when I was a little short on fish; I decided to serve it over pasta to make the protein go farther. The spices in the fish stew are added with quite a light hand. You can ramp them up if you like, but I prefer to let the flavors of the vegetables, fish, tomatoes, and wine come through.
Cara Eisenpress

Serves: 2


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 leek, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2/3 pound flounder or other white fish, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 6-8 ounces spaghetti
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven over low heat. Add the shallot, leek, and fennel, and cook for 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are very soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, then turn the heat up and add the wine. Let it come to a boil, then return the heat to low, cover, and let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes, until very tender, checking periodically to make sure there’s still plenty of liquid in the pot
  2. Add the salt, tomatoes, saffron water, smoked paprika, cayenne, and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Let simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, partially covered, to let the flavors meld. Taste for salt.
  3. While the stew is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the spaghetti. Put the pasta in about 5 minutes before adding the fish to the stew. Cook according to package directions, then drain and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil
  4. Add the fish, toss to distribute, then cover the pot and cook 2-4 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Mix in the red wine vinegar.
  5. Scoop a portion of spaghetti onto each plate. Distribute the fish stew evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and grind lots of fresh pepper. Serve hot.

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