Inasmuch as it’s still winter, it’s time for another soup/stew. This stew hails from Catalonia, an autonomous community within Spain, with Barcelona as its capital, that borders France and Andorra to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, not surprisingly various seafood dishes and vegetables, such as tomatoes, red peppers, aubergines, mushrooms and artichokes, are common. Additionally, because it’s northern boundary has the Pyrenees, you find a lot of pork, lamb and cheese dishes, as well. Given we are trying to shrink our bellies, we selected this fish stew and we are glad we did. Mm good!
Now many of you looking at the title of this dish are somewhat confused. Most people associate romesco as one of the 5 classic sauces from Catalonia (romesco, alioli, picada, sofregit, and samfaina), made with tomato, red pepper, garlic, and almonds. Romesco, in Catalan cuisine, however, means more than just a sauce. Romesco refers to a pepper (nyora – a must in making authentic romesco sauce), romseco sauce and this seafood dish. Rather than using romesco sauce as it’s base, it uses picada. What is a picada, you say. Well, it’s similar to a romesco except it’s primary ingredients are chiles, almonds/hazlenuts, garlic, olive oil and bread. The recipe for picada used for this dish is found here.
Romesco de Peix, also known as Romescada and Catalon Fisherman Stew, is the stuff of countless fishermen fiestas. Classically, the stew includes monkfish and is enhanced with shell fish but anything goes. In fact, every Catalan housewife has her version of Romesco de Peix. Virtually any fish can be used in this stew but it must use 3 different varieties of fish. Recommended fish would include monkfish, swordfish, halibut, sea bass, turbot, cod, rockfish, red fish, red snapper and ocean perch. Whatever you do, use the freshest fish you can find. In this dish, we used yellow snapper, pomfret and sea bass. It was very tasty. Here is what we did.
- 4 lbs assorted whole fish, scaled, gutted and cleaned
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 large leek, green parts only
- 4 fresh sprigs thyme
- 1 small bunch parsley
- 2 cups white wine
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup picada (recipe found here)
- salt and pepper, to taste
Either have your fishmonger clean, gut and scale the fish for you or do it yourself. While he is at it, he can also filet the fish for you, too. Just save the heads and bones. I chose to filet my own fish because I like the way I do it better. 🙂
Once all of the fish are filleted, take the bones and soak them in water for 30 minutes, thoroughly rinsing when you are done.
Put the rinsed fish heads and bones in a large pot and add onions.
Add the leek greens
Then the parsley
Beat 2 eggs and add to the pot.
Now, add the white wine
And then enough water just to cover.
Bring the broth to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes, or so. The eggs will cook and form a raft that traps the impurities and scum that floats to the top. When done, strain the fish stock through a fine mesh strainer lined with muslin and set aside.
Add the olive oil to a skillet and add 1/2 cup of picada.
Stir with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon and cook for 2 minutes.
Add 2 cups of fish stock to the skillet and stir to incorporate.
Gently, slide the fish filets into the liquid
If necessary, add enough fish stock to barely cover the filets and poach until done, roughly 8 minutes per 1 inch thickness. When done, remove fish from liquid and arrange in bowls. Pour the rest of the stock into the skillet.
Bring to a full simmer while stirring and season with salt and pepper. Ladle over filets in bowl and sprinkle parsley over the top. Serve & enjoy.