Brittany Fish Stew

Brittany Fish Stew

Brittany Fish Stew

Fresh, clean, light, and flavourful, this recipe from Gabriel Gaté makes for a really enjoyable seafood soup.  I ventured to my mum’s house to whip this one up, surprising my parents with the perfect lunch for a crisp and clear Melbourne winter’s day.

Overall, I really liked the recipe.  However I think I would possibly consider a few additions next time; the first being the addition of a little fish stock, and the second being a splash of white wine after frying off the onions, garlic and leek.  I know that Gabriel mentioned the fact that most Bretons have their own family recipes for this traditional fish and potato soup handed down through the generations… so with that said I don’t feel that bad about making my own adaptations!  Anyway, use the recipe below from Gabriel as a base and have some fun with it to find a version that suits you and your family!

Ingredients

  • 80 g (3 oz) butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 litre cold water
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ kg (3 lb) whole fish (choose a selection from monkfish, flathead, john dory, whiting etc.), cleaned and cut into 3cm pieces (I used silver whiting and flathead)
  • 12 mussels
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) chopped parsley

How to do it

Okay, so this recipe starts with a fair bit of chopping (surprise!).  The fun part is though that you get to bring your cleaver out to chop up the fish (did anyone ever used to watch Yan Can Cook?  That guy was crazy with a cleaver!)

Whole fish - chopped and minus heads!

Whole fish – chopped and minus heads!

So chop the onions, leek, garlic, and potato.  Then prepare your fish.  This recipe calls for whole fish chopped into pieces (not filleted).  Your local fish monger should be happy to clean your selected fish for you when you are shopping, so you will only have to chop them up for the pot (leaving the head out).  If not, you will have to clean them yourself prior to chopping them up for cooking.  Then give your mussels a bit of rinse and scrub ready for the pot (remove any beards with a sharp knife). Discard any shells that are broken, chipped or open already (if they don’t close when you give the shell a tap).

Results of my laboured chopping ...

Results of my laboured chopping …

Heat the butter in a stock pot over a medium heat on the stove top, add the onion and saute for a few minutes until softened.  Then add the garlic and leek and stir to saute for another two minutes or so.  Throw in the potato and the sprigs of thyme and stir for a minute until fragrant.

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Fish through the steam...

Fish through the steam…

Add 1 litre of cold water to the pot, season to taste and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes  before adding the fish pieces.  When adding the fish, just give the pot a bit of a shake to distribute (so you don’t break up the tender fish with the spoon like I did!). Simmer the fish in the soup for a further 5 minutes.

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What else can I say ...looks delicious doesn't it?

What else can I say …looks delicious doesn’t it?

Finally add the mussels and cover with a lid to steam in the liquid for a few minutes.  Discard any mussels that do not open during the cooking process.  Throw in the chopped parsley and ladle up to enjoy.  Perfect with some fresh crusty bread (or baguette if you can find a good one).

Lovely, tasty and easy to make.  Definitely something that should be on the menu at home more often!

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