Sicilian Fish Stew

To perfectly cook pieces of swordfish, we simmer the fish until partially done then let it finish cooking off the heat.

Sicilian Fish Stew
SERVES 4 to 6
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS In Sicily, fish is combined with tomatoes and favorite local ingredients to create a simple stew. Although easy to prepare, this stew requires a balancing act of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Many Sicilian dishes exhibit the strong influence of Arabic cooking through the use of dried fruits and nuts. Although these flavors are delicious, they must be used judiciously to keep them from upstaging each other and the fish. This stew is typically made with firm white-fleshed fillets, such as snapper. However, tasters felt that the snapper’s mild flavor was lost amid the bold flavors of the stew and preferred the stronger flavor and meaty texture of swordfish. To prevent the fish from overcooking and drying out, we found it best to add the fish when the stew was nearly done, simmering it until partially cooked and letting it finish cooking by residual heat with the stove off and the pot covered. For the base of the stew, we created a quick stock using aromatic onions, celery, and garlic simmered with white wine, whole peeled tomatoes, and clam juice and mixed in golden raisins and capers for sweet and briny pops of flavor. To finish our stew, we put together a twist on gremolata , a classic Italian herb condiment usually made with lemon zest and parsley. Here, we swapped those elements for orange zest and mint to underline the sweet and fragrant flavors in the dish and stirred in toasted pine nuts for added crunch. Tuna and halibut are good substitutes for the swordfish. Serve with crusty bread to dip into the broth.

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped fine
1 celery rib, minced
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, chopped coarse
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1½ pounds skinless swordfish steaks, 1 to 1 ½ inches thick, cut into 1-inch pieces

1. Combine pine nuts, mint, one-quarter of garlic, and orange zest in bowl; set aside for serving. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, pepper flakes, and remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Stir in wine and reserved tomato juice, bring to simmer, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, clam juice, raisins, and capers, bring to simmer, and cook until flavors meld, about 15 minutes.
3. Pat swordfish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Nestle swordfish into pot and spoon some cooking liquid over top. Bring to simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Off heat, cover and let sit until swordfish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling individual bowls with pine nut mixture.

 

 

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