Making a delicious meal for the family should not be difficult. It should be easy and painless. If you ever want to impress and at the same time start training your kid’s taste buds in the right direction, try this fish stew recipe that is not complicated. It does require some planning ahead, but no more time consuming that a quick stop at HEB on your way home from work to buy some fresh fish. The rest of the ingredients you may already have at home.
Well, I misspoke. I cannot cook without pimenton (Spanish paprika) and saffron, so I always have those two condiments at my fingertips. I strongly advise you to invest in buying them, since they can add the little kick of Mediterranean taste that some dishes need. They are both natural, unprocessed, no additives or chemical added ingredients you are going to love. But this days talking about price is important; I must say that Pimenton is not expensive since a small can of it (2.5 oz) can last months. Saffron, on the other hand, is considered the most precious and expensive spice IN THE WORLD. It comes in small filaments that are only the stigmas of the saffron flower (a member of the Iris family). Since each flower has only 3 stigmas and they must be removed from the flower by hand, it makes this spice one of the most expensive you can find. Luckily, you only need a few filaments to cook a meal! Saffron has been known since ancient times, being mentioned in the Bible. Older civilizations used it for cooking because of its unique aroma and yellow coloring properties. They also used it to make perfumes and for its therapeutic properties. It was used to calm fevers, as a liver tonic and to calm nerves.
Anyway, the history is long and vast, since most ancient civilizations used it, including the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Today, it is indispensable ingredient in Spanish cuisine and used in all Mediterranean countries.
I remember the time before the internet, when I had to bring Pimenton and Saffron from Spain on every occasion I had. Today it is much easier. Check out www.latienda.com(there is a link in my web page).
Going back to the fish stew. Say it is Monday evening and you are driving home from work, exhausted and hungry. Let say you already have 4 potatoes, ½ onion, 2 garlic cloves, ¼ of a green bell pepper and some olive oil at home. Well, all you have to do is pay a quick visit to your friendly HEB store and pick up some white fish. You can choose between basa, cod, halibut…it goes well with any white fish. You need about 1 ½ lb.
When you get home, before you change, cut the potatoes in pieces and set aside. Mince the onions, the garlic and bell pepper and cook it all in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, until the onions are transparent. At this point you add the potatoes, in cubes, and add water to barely cover the potatoes. Add 2 teaspoons of Pimenton and 1 envelop of saffron. Cook over medium-low for 20 minutes.
Now you can go and change. You also have time to check out the evening news.
Now you are ready to cut the fish in small pieces, about 1×1” and add the fish to the cooking mixture. The fish will cook fast; you may need an additional 15 minutes. While you set the table and put together a salad, your fish stew will rest and absorb all the flavorings of its ingredients.
Ah! I forgot to mention 1bay leaf. You should add it to the stew when you add the fish. Look in the back of your pantry, you may have some.
By now you may be aware of the many studies praising the benefits of Omega 3 oils. Well, here you have them. Fish stew provides a balanced mixture of carbohydrates and protein, together with the vitamins and soothing effect of the herbs and vegetables.
Perfect for dinner. Your family will be able to enjoy from the door, the minute they step into the house.
I still remember the complaints of my kids when they were small. Those of you with kids know exactly what I am talking about. I had to mash everything with a fork before they would agree to eat it; they didn’t want to feel the fish, or the pepper, and blah, blah, blah. I also remember doing the exact same thing to my mother. Now we all enjoy this very simple and nutritious dish.
It is time for you to create traditions and memories. The best ones will come from your efforts, when you try to teach your children to enjoy good food.
Marta Katalenas M.D.