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
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.