I love this hearty, full-flavoured dish. It’s my kind of food – simple, unpretentious and heartwarming.
Skye Gyngell’s tomato, fish and bread stew
- Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus soaking
- Cooking time: 55 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes, plus soaking
500g fresh clams
12 raw shell-on tiger prawns
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 leek, diced
1 tsp chilli flakes
3 fresh bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
1 carrot, diced
6 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped (see The knowledge)
150ml white wine
1 litre fish stock
2 slices day-old crusty bread
600g sea bass (or cod or halibut) fillets, scaled, deboned and cut into 100g pieces
handful fennel tops (from the salad) or dill sprigs, roughly chopped
1. Soak the clams for 2 hours in cold water; discard any with broken shells. Halve the prawns lengthways; rinse under cold water.
2. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large, heavy-based casserole dish or pan over a medium heat. Sweat the onion, leek, chilli, bay leaves, garlic and carrot for 10 minutes, until just soft and slightly caramelised. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes more. Turn up the heat and add the brandy and wine; boil for 3 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the stock and bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes; take off the heat, season and cool.
3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160˚C, gas mark 3. Bake the bread until dried out but not browned (about 15 minutes). Once the soup has cooled slightly, discard the bay leaves and roughly purée in a blender or using a stick blender.
4. In a separate frying pan, heat the remaining 3 tbsp oil until smoking hot. Season the fish, then add, skin-side down, and fry for 1 minute on each side; remove and set aside. Add the prawns and cook for 1 minute on each side, until pink, then set aside with the fish.
5. Warm the soup if needed, add the clams, then cover and cook for 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until their shells open. Add the fish and cook for 2 minutes more, then push in the bread pieces. Arrange the prawns on top, scatter with the fennel tops (or dill) and serve.