Tunisian seafood stew with fennel

This is a delicious recipe, you can use it with just about any seafood you like. We made it with some fish that Hector gave us, and some squat lobsters. Any mixture of fillets of white fish, mussels, prawns, etcetera could be used. I started with a recipe in ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. A few adaptations were made – I want to use local fresh seafood, and good cooking tomatoes are not always available. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into thin segmental wedges
  • 1 large firm-fleshed potato such as Maris Piper, or 200g of any waxy potatoes, cut into 1.5cm cubes.
  • 700 ml fish, vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 a medium preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • mixed prepared seafood – enough for four people, around 600g
  • 3 tbsp raki or similar spirit
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put a wide casserole dish over a low heat, and add the olive oil, and gently fry the garlic for a couple of minutes
  • Add the fennel and potato, and cook for a further three to four minutes
  • Add stock, preserved lemon, a pinch of salt and black pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 12 minutes, until the potatoes are done. 
  • Add the chilli, tomatoes, paprika, saffron, half the parsley, tarragon, and cook through for another few minutes. Add the raki and bring to the boil.
  • Add the seafood, and enough boiling water to cover, bring back to the boil and cover, cooking fast for three to five minutes, until the fish is just done. 
  • Serve over couscous, garnished with chopped parsley.

The original recipe suggests taking out the seafood once it is cooked , and then adding the raki, reducing the sauce then adding the fish back in. I didn’t have the patience. 

 

Braised Fennel

I love fennel, especially with fish dishes. This method is truly delicious and very easy. I found it in Honey from a Weed by Patience Gray. I left out the tomatoes that she suggested, because I didn’t have any. She suggests a specific type of tomato that I have never seen here.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Fennel bulbs: allow one large bulb for two servings
  • Butter
  • Parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Slice each fennel bulb into quarters vertically, and cook for five minutes in salted boiling water.
  • Drain the fennel well, and then braise in a heavy pan in the butter for around 15 minutes.
  • During the cooking process, sprinkle the fennel with the parmesan cheese, turning the pieces so that the cheese coats the fennel. Continue to cook, so that the fennel is lightly browned.
  • If you have some pomodori appesi, (baby tomatoes stored on the vine) – you can add these to the dish at the end.