Caldeirada de Peixe (Fish Stew)

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On my first trip to Portugal five years ago I enjoyed several meals of caldeirada, a seafood stew similar to the French bouillabaisse. Shortly afterwards I found a recipe for a tasty caldeirada de peixe, or fish stew, and I have been cooking it for the past few years, usually in winter. The only problem with the recipe is that it makes a large pot of stew that serves six to eight people. So this past winter, I adapted the recipe so it could be cooked in a large pan and would serve three or four. Now, let’s get cooking!

Caldeirada de Peixe (Fish Stew)

Ingredients:

1 lb. salmon, cod or haddock, or a combination of these, cut into two-inch chunks

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 green or red pepper, sliced

1 large tomato, diced

2 or 3 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dry white wine

olive oil

parsley or cilantro

oregano

salt and pepper

Method:

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a large non-stick pan that you can put a lid on. Set the burner to medium high heat. When the oil just begins to emit faint wisps of smoke, add the bay leaf and cook for about a minute, until it begins to turn brown.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the fish to the pan. Give the fish a quick sear; then add onion, garlic, pepper, tomato and potatoes, and distribute evenly in pan. Pour in the white wine, toss in a small handful of chopped parsley or cilantro, a good sprinkling of oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Top off with a drizzle of olive oil over the whole. Bring to a simmer, cover pan, turn heat down to low, and let stew simmer, 30 to 45 minutes until vegetables are tender. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread.

On Poaching Eggs

When you poach eggs, add a bit of vinegar to the water. It helps the eggs hold their shape. Placing an egg into boiling water for poaching is easier if you first break the egg into a saucer or small bowl, then slide the egg into the pan. And when you remove poached eggs, use a slotted spoon, hold a folded dish towel or some paper towel under the spoon and roll the spoon back and forth to drain the water from the egg.

Now, let’s get cooking!

tombutkovich@cogeco.ca

Geographic location: Portugal

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