Hey, you know those squared-off packets of white fish you find in the supermarket freezer aisle? They look like this:
I’ve seen cod, haddock and coley packaged like this in Morrisons and Sainsburys. At around £3.00 for 500g, these packets of fish are generally half the price of their fresh equivalents. The downside: as rectangular “fish portions”, they don’t look quite right served as a dish in their own right. So what do you do with them?
I keep a regular stock of these packets in the freezer, and turn them into Italian Fish Stew. It’s a great recipe, requiring little prep. I tend to rustle it up when the fridge and cupboards are beginning to look bare at the end of the month: if you have fish in the freezer and a tin of tomatoes on hand, you’re away. Although it’s a stew and it’s great in winter, it is also light enough for the summer months. And of course, it’s tasty and super-cheap – especially for a fish dish!
I make this dish in the slow cooker, and am featuring it here following a reader request. This Italian Fish Stew based, albeit VERY roughly, on a recipe called Sardinian Fish Stew, included in Truly Madly Pasta by Ursula Ferrigno. My recipe isn’t particularly Italian; the name is a nod to the original. Also, let’s face it, “Fish Stew” on its own doesn’t sound half as appetising, does it?
P.S. If you are skint and your local supermarket doesn’t stock the frozen packets as detailed above, it’s also a good recipe for those £2.00 packets of unidentified “white fish” that frequent the freezer aisles.
Italian Fish Stew
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 small red chilli
Handful of parsley
1 tin of tomatoes
1kg- 1 1/2kg fish. There are no hard and fast rules, so use whatever you have to hand. I tend to use a couple of packets of white fish, as above, along with a frozen fillet of salmon and, if I have it, some oily fish too. (I keep sardines in the freezer; mackerel is also cheap.)
A couple of handfuls of pasta. The original recipe specifies soup pasta, but I can never be bothered to buy any. We usually have the remnants of a packet in the pasta – almost one serving but not quite – so I smash it up a little with the end of a rolling pin and chuck it in.
Slosh of white wine (optional)
Bread, to serve.
4. Add the slosh of white wine, if you have some, and leave the broth to cook. I generally leave it for three hours on the high setting, or five hours on the low setting.
5. An hour before you are ready to serve, add the smashed-up pasta, the fish and half a tin of water.
6. Serving time: season to taste, sprinkle with the rest of the parsley, and serve with fresh bread. Yum!
If you have other tricks, tips or recipes to get the most out of those frozen fish portions, do let me know…