Suquet de peix (fish stew)
This traditional dish started as a humble meal for sailors. The fish fishermen could not sell at the market was used to make their lunch on board. However, things changed and nowadays a Suquet can be as sophisticated as you may want it to be; it is basically a stew of different fishes on a light sauce. There are some guidelines to prepare it, but no rigid rules about which fish to use: there can be as many possible variations as fishes on the Mediterranean shore.
Ingredients for 4-6 people
THE BROTH Rock fish, heads from the fishes to be used, other fish bones, heads, etc… 1 onion, bay leave, a clove of garlic, some parsley, celery stick, a carrot, salt. 1 l. water Shells and heads from prawns or shrimps to be used.
THE “PICADA” 50 gr. almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts 2 slices of bread, some parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, saffron strands salt, pepper, olive oil, rehydrated and peeled “ñora” or “ñora” paste.
THE “SOFRITO” 2 ripe tomatoes, grated; 1 medium onion, cut in small dices.
THE STEW 1 kg well trimmed fishes cut in pieces (red scorpion, monkfish, gilthead …) 8 prawns or shrimps Clams (optional) ½ l fish stock ½ kg potatoes cut/broken in dices – chunks.
1. We start the dish in a big sauce pan preparing the “picada”: heat some oil, peel and cut the garlic cloves and place them in the sauce pan and let them golden up a bit (not overcooking them, as burnt garlic turns sour), add the bread slices and toast, take away from the heat. In a mortar or a blender, place the garlic, the bread, the “ñora”, the peeled and toasted hazelnuts and almonds, some salt and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Blend and set aside.
2. In the same sauce pan, we will cook the “sofrito”: pour some olive oil and sauté onion. Cook at low heat until transparent, then add the grated tomatoes and, once there is no water left, add the potatoes. Stir and coat well until they get some colour (3 or 4 minutes).
3. Now we get to the stew: we add the broth to the “sofrito”, stirring well; then the “picada” mixing as well. When potatoes are nearly boiled, add the fish, shrimps and clams, taking into account cooking times according to thickness and firmness. Adjust salt, let it rest a few minutes and serve.
Boil all broth ingredients for 20-30 minutes, except the shrimp shells and heads. In a frying pan put some olive oil and sauté the shells/heads, crushing them to get all the juices out. Add them to the broth and boil for another 10 minutes. Strain, adjust salt and let it simmer until you have an intense flavour.
Broths can be made in advance and freeze for later use, although the best idea is to bring a few tupperwares to the class and be able to have these dishes ready for dinner!