Fish stew Ancona-style

We don’t eat seafood nearly as much as we should, but on Sunday afternoon we spoiled ourselves with a trip to a local fish market – scoring some awesome treasures for a Sunday night feast. Oysters, fish, prawns, pipis and scallops…..I was seriously excited to get home and get cooking!

Recently I bought Antonio Carluccio’s book, The Collection, and was continuously drawn to his Fish stew Ancona-style – no matter how aimlessly I thought I was skipping through the pages, I always ended up at the same spot. So I took it as a sign – and I’m glad I did because this is one of the best seafood recipes out there – just wonderful. I despise it when people do too much to seafood, really it’s at it’s best when the produce is left to speak for itself.

This stew recipe allows you to pick and choose what you like when it comes to the seafood – we used trevally as our fish because its a firmer white fleshed fish and kept its shape when cooked, some amazing tiger prawns, scallops and pipis (a mollusc with a smooth wedge-shape with a cream to pale brown shell). You could also use whole small fish, mussels, clams, baby octopus or anything else that takes your fancy.

I don’t know what it is about cooking with seafood, but it always feels a bit glamorous, possibly for the simple fact that its not cheap to buy. We spent about AU$53 on everything we got (including a half dozen oysters to snack on before the main course) – so while it wasn’t a bank breaker, it’s still a lot to spend on two people. Although I should probably warn you that we ate like kings and had to have a small lie down post seafood feast to regain normal functionality – it was a lot of food, but I’m so happy we decided to splurge – what an indulgent (yet healthy) way to end a weekend!

Serves 4 – 6

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The list:

1.2kg mixed fresh fish

500g mixed fresh shellfish (clams, mussels, opened scallops, prawns)

5 Tbs olive oil

1 large onion, finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

5 tomatoes, chopped

Pinch of dried chilli

Salt and pepper

3 Tbs fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

2 Tbs white wine vinegar

4 – 6 thick slices Sourdough


The method:

  1. Fillet the fish if necessary and cut into bite-sized pieces, or leave them whole if small. Scrub the shellfish and clean as appropriate.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic, and fry gently to soften. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of chilli. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Start to add the large pieces of fish to the sauce first, followed by the shellfish and then by the small fish. Cook gently for 5–8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and the mussels and clams have opened, then add the parsley and wine vinegar. Toss gently to mix.
  4. Serve with toasted bread, which you either put at the bottom of the plate or offer separately. Drizzle over some extra olive oil to serve.

Enjoy with a beer or two and good company…

Fish stew Ancona-style

Fish stew Ancona-style

A lovely dish that respects the fish and shellfish

A lovely dish that respects the fish and shellfish

A few oysters to start off the evening

A few oysters to start off the evening

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