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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Caribbean Fish Stew


This savory slow-cooked stew will wake up your taste buds. And it's good for you too: coconut milk adds healthy fats while ginger and turmeric fight inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer.

This recipe is inspired by the Moosewood Collective's "Caribbean Shrimp & Vegetable Soup" in their Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook. My version uses white fish instead of shrimp, and a unique combination of seasonings. I use the zest of the lime as well as its juice and make a few other changes.

I chose Seafood Watch-approved wild-caught haddock, but you can use any non-toxic fish or seafood. If you don't have haddock, try wild salmon, Atlantic mackerel, clams, or mussels. This would be a good occasion to use canned wild salmon, which is widely available and more affordable than fresh or frozen wild salmon. Or try other canned fish like herring or sardines.

I finish this dish with cilantro and I've been known to add a whole bunch, literally. If you like it less, add less, or none at all. If you're not a fan, parsley would be a good substitute. 

  •     1 tablespoon cold-pressed coconut oil
  •     1 large onion, diced
  •     1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  •     1 organic red bell pepper, diced
  •     1 green chili pepper, Serrano or other (optional)
  •     1 sweet potato, scrubbed with skin intact and diced
  •     2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  •     1 to 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger root
  •     1 rounded tsp ground turmeric
  •     ½ teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorn
  •     1 cup diced tomatoes and juices, fresh or canned
  •     2 cups vegetable, seafood, or chicken stock
  •     1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 rounded teaspoon dried
  •     1 allspice leaf or bay leaf
  •     1 pound wild-caught haddock fillets, at room temperature
  •     1 can coconut milk
  •     1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped or substitute parsley
  •     2 organic limes, zest and juice (omit the zest if your lime is not organic)

  1. In a soup pot with a heavy bottom, warm the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion, celery, and peppers. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown. When the vegetables start to stick to the bottom, stir in some sea salt (it will release some moisture and stop sticking).
  2. Once the vegetables have softened and started to brown, reduce the heat to low and add the sweet potato, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and black pepper. Continue cooking until the sweet potatoes soften, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from becoming over-cooked and bitter.
  3. When the vegetables start to stick to the bottom again, add the tomatoes. Stir to dissolve any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Then add the stock, thyme, allspice leaf, and enough water to cover the vegetables. Stir to combine and increase the heat to medium. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and simmer slowly until the sweet potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk, then add the whole fish filets to the pot. Tuck them down into the soup so that they are fully covered. Return the soup to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 10 more minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.
  5. Use the back of a spoon to break the fish up into bite-sized pieces. Turn off the heat and add the cilantro and the zest and juice of one lime. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, adding the zest and juice of the second lime and/or more salt. Serve immediately.

This soup can be made a day in advance, but you should wait to add the lime and cilantro until just before you serve it. Follow the recipe above until the fish is fully cooked, then cool the soup to room temperature and transfer it to the fridge. Before serving, re-heat the soup slowly over medium-low heat and make your additions.

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