Published November 1, 1994.
Fish stews have just three components: the stock, the base, and the fish. Here's the best way to cook each one.
Unlike meat and chicken stews, which develop flavor during a long simmering process, fish stew must be cooked quickly. The fish in most stews are cooked far too long. But how do you get great flavor without long cooking?
A flavorful, easy to make stew with perfectly cooked--not overcooked--fish.
Fish stew consists of three components--fish stock, a flavor base (usually made with sautéed vegetables, herbs, and other seasonings), and the fish itself. It is from the first two components that it must get the greatest share of its flavor. We started our testing by making a favorite fish stew with homemade fish stock, water, chicken stock, and a cheater stock that started with bottled clam juice. The stew made with homemade fish stock was far superior. Because fish does not have time to flavor the stew liquid (it will dry out and fall apart if cooked for more than a few minutes), the liquid must start out tasting good. Bottled clam juice, doctored up with some fresh ingredients, is our second choice if making fish stock is impossible. The prime flavoring element in many fish stews is a seasoned tomato sauce, or base. We tested bases made with fresh and canned tomatoes and found little difference between them, so don't hesitate to use canned tomatoes.list of recipes