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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saffron Fish Stew with White Beans


My husband and I went on our first date when I was on vacation, house sitting with a friend in an amazing beach house on the North Shore of Massachusetts. I'm so glad that I met him when I was in such a magical place. The master bedroom was almost entirely windows and overlooked the sea. The back patio had a large, wrought-iron table and chair set and was canopied by a real sail. But my favorite part of the house, by far, was the gourmet kitchen. Not only was the kitchen equipment top-notch, but we were told to feel free to use anything in it food-wise. Never in my life have I ever seen so many spices and condiments. I was like a kid in a candy store.

My own house, which is fantastic but not nearly as cool, has a pretty impressive spice cabinet these days. And I'm really psyched that I've added two new spices to my collection for this week's menu. One of the spices is a replacement for the ground coriander that spilled all over my kitchen, if you recall that story. I figured that if I've needed coriander twice in recent memory, it was time to get more.

The coriander is for Saffron Fish Stew with White Beans, a recipe I adapted from the April 2010 Cooking Light. The original recipe calls for ground fennel, but I figured the dish could stand for another vegetable and added a fennel bulb instead. If you don't want quite that much fennel (which, if you're not familiar with fennel, has a light licorice taste), feel free to substitute with one teaspoon of the ground fennel.

Saffron Fish Stew with White Beans
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup prechopped onion
1 small fennel bulb, bulb only, chopped (reserve tops for garnish)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp grated fresh orange rind
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups clam juice
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 tsp salt
1 pound flounder filet, cut into (2-inch) pieces

1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, coriander, garlic and thyme; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in rind and saffron; add water, clam juice, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in salt, fish, and beans; cook 5 minutes. Top with fennel fronds.

The Verdict: Super easy, super quick and super tasty.

It reminded me a lot of the Venetian Fish Stew (http://kinaymandinner.blogspot.com/2010/10/venetian-fish-stew.html) I prepared a while back, but it's a lot less work. While I liked the variety of seafood in the Venetian stew, I think the clam juice in this dish gave it a much more developed flavor. And obviously, cutting up one type of fish rather than preparing many, helped to bring dinner to the table much faster.

I was really surprised that our toddler loved the broth since he generally eschews the "soup" part of soup, but he drank quite a bit of it. He was also crazy about the fish. As I cleaned up supper dishes he yelled, "One more bite!" and came running into the kitchen for one, two, and three additional pieces of fish.

Definitely serve this dish with a nice, crusty bread. A good bottle of Sav Blanc wouldn't hurt either.

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