Catalan Fish Stew

I’ve been reading quite a few articles in the paper lately about Catalan cooking and so when I came across this recipe, knew that I had to make it.  The mix of olives and fish and jamon make for a very hearty dish that comes together pretty easily for a weeknight.

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I have also never understood how one is supposed to box grate a tomato (which the original recipe calls for) since it usually ends up with a sad looking mush of tomato and not nearly the yield that I would have expected.

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I started substituting this with my favorite boxed tomatoes (which is always good to have around the house, especially for those nights when you’re too tired to cook but can make a simple pasta).  Once the substitution happened, not only did it speed up my cooking, but I was less averse to trying all these recipes with the box grated tomatoes.

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Just make sure to go easy on the dollop of the mayonnaise sauce – the stew itself is already pretty rich and hearty so start with a small dollop per serving, and then add it on if you want more of that flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz box finely chopped or strained tomatoes (I always buy Pomi tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup bottled clam broth (same as clam juice)
  • 4 ounces sliced serrano ham, cut into thin strips (Jamon and Proscuitto work, as well)
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds halibut fillet, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)  or regular paprika

Directions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and half of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until they are softened and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the box of tomatoes and cook over high heat until it is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the clam juice and boil until it is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the serrano, olives and halibut and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fish is cooked through and the stew is thick, about 5 minutes longer.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using the back of a spoon, mash the remaining garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Whisk in the mayonnaise, pimentón and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Serve the fish stew in shallow bowls with a small dollop of the pimentón mayonnaise.  

Adapted from Food and Wine

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