This is the classic, spectacular seafood stew from the Dalmatian Coast. I was amazed to see Ino preparing the eel by running his hand down the length of it to break any small bones. If you’re buying eel for the first time, get your fishmonger to show you how this is done – if you can find one that stocks eel! For the recipe you need to use at least three different kinds of fish and some shellfish – white-fleshed reef and rock fish are good choices. Ideally one fish will be for flavour, one for its flesh and one to boost the thickness of the stew. Scampi are great for flavour or you can use Balmain bugs or crabs instead. Serve with soft polenta.
- Prep Time: 2 hr(s) 45 min(s)
- Cook Time: 55 min(s)
- Serves 6
1.5 kg – fish such as eel, rockling, coral trout or rock flathead, cleaned and scaled, heads and tails removed, cut into cutlets
100 ml – extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
juice of ½ lemon
20 – garlic cloves, minced
½ bunch – flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 – large onion, finely chopped
½ cup – finely chopped tomatoes
100 ml – white wine
salt and pepper
500 ml – fish stock or water
12 – mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
6 – scampi, Balmain bugs or crabs
12 – cherry tomatoes
Marinate the fish in the oil, lemon juice, a couple of tablespoons of the minced garlic and most of the parsley (reserve a little for garnish) for a few hours.
Heat some more oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or claypot and sauté the remaining garlic, adding the onion after a few seconds. When the onion is lightly coloured, add the chopped tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for about 20 minutes, until it loses its acidity.
Season the marinated fish with salt and pepper, making sure you get each piece. Add to the pan and stir well, then add the fish stock or water to just cover the fish. Bring to the boil over high heat then continue cooking rapidly for 20 minutes. Don’t stir but carefully shake the pan instead to avoid breaking up the fish. Add the mussels, scampi (or Balmain bugs or crabs) and cherry tomatoes in the last 5 minutes.
Serve the stew with soft polenta. Garnish with parsley.