Zuppa Di Pesce (Italian Seafood Stew)

Serves: 4

Mama mia! Every time I have cooked this, it gets better and better. The flavours, the experience, the fun of eating anything that you get to mop up with crusty bread.

The recipe is from Armando Percuoco of Buon Ricordo Restaurant in Paddington, famous for his truffle egg pasta and long lunches.

I swear that if you cook this once, you will cook it again the next weekend, inviting friends around for it.

It looks the part, it tastes so goddam good and it’s fun to share with some salads, maybe some potatoes, some chargrilled asparagus with chilli and garlic and plenty of bread.

No excuses, cook it!

Ingredients

3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
½ cup of olive oil
1 rock cod (250gm) (substitute with leatherjacket)
Blue eye (150gm piece)
Kingfish (150gm piece)
6 mussels (I used 10)
2 baby octopus
8 rings of calamari (obviously, more can be used and I would)
½ Blue Swimmer Crab
8 clams
1 cup of white wine (I used 1 ½ cups)
½ punnet cherry tomatoes (halved)
4 tablespoons chopped Roma tomatoes
1 bunch of Italian parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper
Grilled crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. In a heavy saucepan or casserole, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until it is just about to go golden.
  3. Add the calamari (and octopus) and toss.
  4. Add the balance of the seafood, and the white wine.
  5. Cook until the white wine has effectively evaporated.
  6. Remove all the seafood except for the calamari (octopus) and add the tomatoes.
  7. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring once.
  8. Add the rest of the seafood, and place in the oven for a further 10 minutes, again stirring once.
  9. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Zarzeula

Serves: 6

This is such a wonderful dish. It is so fresh, letting the seafood and the sauce do the work, and looks just amazing when dished and then plated in front of everyone. I served this with Andalusian Pork, a Moroccan salad and an enormous bowl of crusty bread.

I substituted bass for monkfish (I briefly thought about crayfish meat) and flounder for the halibut, though halibut can be found at the markets and I have had monkfish in Australia, albeit in a restaurant and imported from NZ.

Ingredients

7 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 large, ripe tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and finely chopped
½tsp paprika
2 thin slices of bread, crusts removed
4 almonds, toasted and skinned
3 garlic cloves, peeled
100g thick cod fillet, skinned
100g monkfish fillet, skinned
100g halibut fillet, skinned
1½ tbsp plain flour
100g prepared squid, sliced
8 raw tiger prawns
16 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
8 large clams, scrubbed
100ml Spanish brandy or other inexpensive brandy
150ml dry white wine
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
crusty bread, to serve

Monkfish

  1. Heat three tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté slowly until light golden. Add the tomatoes and paprika and cook over a low heat until the oil separates from the vegetables and appears on the surface. Put to one side.
  2. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a separate frying pan, add the bread and fry on both sides until golden. Place in a mortar with the almonds, two cloves of garlic and one tablespoon of olive oil. Pound together to a fine paste, then set aside.
  3. Season the fish and dust with the flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the fish in it separately – first the cod, then the monkfish, halibut, squid and prawns. As each is cooked, transfer to a large casserole.
  4. Add the mussels and clams to the casserole. Chop the remaining clove of garlic and stir it into the casserole dish. Put over a low heat, pour the brandy over the fish and heat gently, then set it alight, standing well back.
  5. When the flames have died down, stir in the reserved tomato mixture, followed by the white wine and just enough hot water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about four minutes, until the mussels and clams have opened. Discard any that remain closed.
  6. Mix in the reserved bread paste to thicken the sauce, then add the parsley. Season to taste. Serve in large bowls, accompanied by crusty bread.

Salmon Salad with Vinaigrette

Serves: 2 – 4

Another sub-300 calorie dish that I have adapted.

And so good.

Alternate the number of pieces of salmon you cook (2 – 4) depending on how many meals you wish to prepare. Served the next day from the refrigerator, it is just as good as warm the night before so even if it is just you, I’d do two pieces of salmon: dinner and a fabulous, healthy lunch at work.

(And swap a boiled, sliced egg for the potato if you wish.)

Ingredients

400gm green beans, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths
¼ c red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp mince shallots
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 – 4 salmon fillets, skin off
4 c salad greens
¼ c sliced red onion
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp black olives, chopped
4 baby potatoes (or 2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced)
Handful of parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Steam the beans until al dente, refresh and drain. Combine the salad greens, capers, olives, beans and red onion and set aside.
  2. Steam the potatoes until cooked and slice. Set aside.
  3. Combine the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, shallots, 1/8 tsp salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined; set aside.
  4. Heat a pan to medium hot, spray both sides of the fish fillets with olive oil, season with the remaining salt and pepper and cook both side until fish flakes easily.
  5. Put a good handful of the salad/bean mixture in each bowl, sprinkle a few slices of potato (or egg) and flake the fish on top. Dress with the dressing and serve with a garnish of chopped parsley.

King Prawns sautéed with tomato, fish sauce and black pepper (Tom Rim)

Serves 4

I first cooked this dish at a cooking class at the Seafood School with my mother Ellen, around 2003. The teacher was Mark Jensen, the head chef at Red Lantern, and I swear, I became infatuated with this dish and cooked it a dozen times for different friends: Rob and Jill, Giles and Nat… even Aaron and Nilhan.

And of course my Nat one winter’s Sunday night where it hit the right note!

It is rich, hot and striking and with fresh prawns, coriander and spring onion, knocks the socks off of unsuspecting guests. I still have the recipe printout from the Seafood School, though I rediscovered it after buying the Red Lantern cookbook a few years back; this should become a staple for you.

Ingredients

1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
12 jumbo king prawns, peeled, deveined, with tails intact
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 cup (185ml) fish stock
1/2 very ripe tomato, diced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 small handful coriander leaves

Method

  1. Add the oil, garlic and chilli to a wok over medium heat and stir until fragrant but not coloured.
  2. Add the tomato paste. Prawns and sugar. Toss to combine.
  3. Add the pepper, fish sauce, fish stock and diced tomato.
  4. Increase the heat, bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes or until the prawns are cooked through.
  5. Remove the prawns to a serving planner, reduce the sauce slightly (the sauce starts to take on a slight syrupy texture) and pour over the prawns.
  6. Garnish with the spring onion and coriander.