Monday, November 30, 2009

Conger stew

4 conger eel steaks
2 onions, sliced
Butter and a little oil for frying
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bulb fennel, tough or discoloured outer parts removed, sliced
2 leeks, sliced and washed
4 red peppers, sliced
Waxy potatoes for 4
150ml water
Salt, pepper
Saffron (I bought a small, transparent box of threads, and used them all)

Conger may seem an exotic, even alarming ingredient; but that's what I picked at my local fishmonger. It turned out to be a good choice, because it has a monkfish-like, firm consistency.

In a heavy stockpot or casserole, soften the onions and garlic in the butter and oil (vegetables are inclined to catch in butter alone, unless you use a lot of it). Throw in the rest of the vegetables with the water, and bring to a simmer. Put in the fish, with salt and lots of pepper (or cayenne). (Ground pepper can turn bitter if cooked in a stock or stew; but the cooking time here is brief. This dish needs an ingredient that will give it a kick.)

Cover the pot, cooking at a low to medium simmer. Check progress from time to time. You'll find that the vegetables give off a lot of liquid, possibly enough to submerge everything.

The potatoes and the fish should be ready at roughly the same time. If the fish is ready first, transfer it to a dish and keep it warm in a low oven.

Turn off the heat. Last, stir in the saffron.

Serve the stew in bowls.


The Phantom Chef said...


Sounds great. Did you do anything to the eel to prepare it for the stew? Was it expensive?

Nicholas Clee said...

No, I could treat the steaks just as I would have done steaks of salmon or cod. My four steaks cost about £7. (But my fishmonger's prices are particularly reasonable.)