Venetian Fish Stew is a delicious meal for Hanukkah as well as on Christmas Eve. Tender pieces of halibut or sea bass along with carrots, garlic and onion make for a traditional holiday meal.

fish stewPrep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Ready In: 65 min

Servings: 4

2 Carrots, coarsely chopped
2 Celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 large Onion, coarsely chopped
3 whole Garlic cloves, plus 1 clove finely chopped
½ to 1 tsp Salt
1¼ lb Halibut steak, halved
1 tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil, plus 1 tsp
1 tsp grated Fresh Ginger
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
2 tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
8 large Basil Leaves, cut in very thin strips for garnish (optional)
4 slices toasted rustic bread (optional)

Place the carrots, celery, onion and whole garlic cloves in a deep saucepan. Add 4 cups cold water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the fish. Simmer gently 12 minutes. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon. Remove the skin and bones from the fish and add to the pot. Set the fish aside.
Simmer the mixture, which is now a stock, 20 minutes or until reduced to about 3 cups. Strain into a large bowl and set aside. Discard solids. Rinse and dry the pot.
Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and sauté gently until garlic colors lightly, 30 seconds. Add the stock, pepper flakes, lemon juice and tomato paste. Return the fish to the pot. Heat until the stock is steaming. Add the tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, garnished with the basil, if using, along with the bread, if desired. (After being refrigerated overnight and reheated, this stew may take on a “fishy” taste.

Tips & Notes
Despite the influence of American fast food that has spread across the globe, Italian cooking remains distinctively national as well as regional. Visitors to Italy still find that many of the dishes they have tried in one place are quite different in a town just five miles away.
Given this provincialism, it is particularly striking that the cooking in two Italian regions is markedly influenced by many sources that are not even Italian. These two regions, the Veneto and Sicily, sit at opposite ends of Italy.
Venetian and Sicilian cooking both reflect their regions’ associations with various cuisines, including Arab, Turkish, North African, French, Spanish and Asian. Sicilian food reflects the succeeding influx of seven waves of invaders, starting with the Phoenicians, and including the ancient Greeks, Arabs and the French.
In the Veneto, it was the region’s adventurous merchants who brought recipes for exotic dishes and the spices home from as far away as Asia (remember Marco Polo), and even introduced polenta, made from corn that originated in the Americas.
In both Venice and Sicily, Christmas Eve is celebrated with fish dishes. The Jews of the Venetian Ghetto developed their own seafood recipes. With the start of Hanukkah, this week is the perfect time to make Zuppa di Pesce, a lovely fish soup, almost a stew really, that derives from the Italian Jewish community.
Observant Jews do not eat shellfish, so this recipe features chunks of firm, sweet halibut. Sea bass also is good, or a combination of meaty fish, including red snapper, which is ideal.
You may even find imported branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass flown in from Italy these days, which is also known as spigola, for those who appreciate this succulent aristocrat of the sea.

Nutritional Information Per Serving
Calories: 245
Total Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: less than 1g
Carbohydrate: 13g
Protein: 32g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 415mg

Source: AICR

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