Around the world in 80 dishes No.25: Croatia

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Fish stew, by Ino Kuvacic and Maeve O'Meara





Ingredients to serve 6



1.5 kg fish such as eel, rockling, coral trout or rock flathead, cleaned and scaled, heads and tails removed, cut into cutlets

100 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying

Juice of half a lemon

20 garlic cloves, minced

Half a bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

Half a cup finely chopped tomatoes

100 ml white wine

Salt and pepper

500 ml fish stock or water

12 mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

6 scampi, Balmain bugs or crabs

12 cherry tomatoes





Method



Almost every Croatian we've met who grew up by the sea says they started fishing before they could walk, which is impressive. How they cook their catch is even more so. Seafood is a way of life there. This is the classic, spectacular seafood stew from the Dalmatian Coast. For the recipe you need to use at least three different kinds of fish and some shellfish – white-fleshed reef and rock fish are good choices. Ideally one fish will be for flavour, one for its flesh and one to boost the thickness of the stew. Scampi are great for flavour or you can use Balmain bugs or crabs instead. Serve with soft polenta.

Marinate the fish in the oil, lemon juice, a couple of tablespoons of the minced garlic and most of the parsley (reserve a little for garnish) for a few hours.

Heat some more oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole and sauté the remaining garlic, adding the onion after a few seconds. When the onion is lightly coloured, add the chopped tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for about 20 minutes, until it loses its acidity.

Season the marinated fish with salt and pepper, making sure you get each piece. Add to the pan and stir well, then add the fish stock or water to just cover the fish. Bring to the boil over high heat then continue cooking rapidly for 20 minutes. Don't stir but carefully shake the pan instead to avoid breaking up the fish. Add the mussels, scampi (or Balmain bugs or crabs) and cherry tomatoes in the last 5 minutes.



From Food Safari by Maeve O'Meara (Hardie Grant £25)

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