Eat more fish, they say.
Don’t care for the taste, and cooking it can be tricky, you say.
Try this stew, I say.
It’s not fishy. It’s winy and slightly “agrodolce,” with sweet and sour components of stout and honey. Chunks of firm, white-fleshed fish go in at the end so they won’t be overcooked. The saffron is subtle, yet it enriches the pot.
Saffron Fennel Stew With Fish
6 servings (makes about 9 1/2 cups)
Serve with crusty bread, for dunking.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into small chunks
3 to 5 ribs celery, cut into small dice (1 cup)
4 cups sliced or chopped fennel (cored; from 4 or 5 medium bulbs)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
1¾ cups dry red wine
½ cup Guinness stout
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with basil and garlic, plus juices (1½ cups total)
1 cup strained tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 pound marble-size potatoes, such as Honey Gold (rinsed; may substitute fingerling potatoes, cut crosswise into 1-inch rounds)
Generous pinch saffron threads
1 cup boiling water
1 pound firm, white-fleshed, skinned fish fillets, such as monkfish, cod or hake (see TIP)
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup packed finely chopped curly parsley, for serving
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion, celery and fennel. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring a few times, until softened. Stir in the coriander, cumin, salt and pepper; cook for 2 minutes, then pour in the wine, stout, tomatoes and their juices, and the strained tomatoes or tomato sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the liquid’s bubbling, add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. The potatoes should be just tender.
Crumble the saffron threads into a liquid measuring cup, then pour in the boiling water. Let steep for a few minutes. Cut the fish into bite-size chunks.
Uncover the pot; add the saffron water, and then gently stir in the fish. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or just until the fish is opaque.
Stir in the honey; taste and add salt and/or pepper, as needed. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the parsley just before serving.
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