JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, October 12, 2007

Haddock and prawn stew with saffron

This is chowder-ish ... and fabulous food for tired cooks in a hurry. 30 minutes start to finish (20 if you cheat / have prepared ahead). Fat free, yet deliciously creamy. I made it when I got back from a day in London - having bought the fish at Paddington Station on my way home, which is a bit last-minute if you plan to cook from scratch. I'm not giving amounts, this is a method ... you know how much you eat.

Lucius said it was the best fish stew I'd ever made. Partly the saffron, but also, I think, down to using fresh sweetcorn stripped from the cob with a knife - the work of seconds, as I am sure American cooks know, but British cooks may not. Much better than soggy out of a tin - if that was the only option, I think I'd leave it out.

Haddock and prawn stew with saffron

Chopped onions
Plain flour
Potatoes (I used salad potatoes)
Skimmed milk
White fish (I used haddock)
Prawns (if you like)
Saffron (use whole stamens, 4-5 at least)
Corn on the cob

Chop the onions and stew them gently in a little oil. Use a wide pan. When they are soft, stir in a little flour. Add chunks of potato and just cover with milk. Add several pinches of saffron (if you like, soak them first in warm water, in which case tip in the water too). Simmer gently until the potatoes are nearly cooked. Add chunks of fish and the kernels of sweetcorn. When the fish is nearly cooked, drop in the prawns (I'm talking about the little pink peeled and cooked ones here; this is a midweek supper, nothing too fancy or expensive). The prawns will only need warming through, so take the pan off the heat after a couple of minutes and leave it to stand for another couple of minutes before serving.

The two things that make the difference here are fresh corn, and the saffron - the finished dish is a lovely golden colour, and the smokey musky taste of saffron gives the dish a lift out of the ordinary. It's a dish that's easy enough for midweek, special enough for a party, and versatile enough to cook for a crowd (you could prepare ahead up to putting in the potatoes, stopping after they'd cooked for a couple of minutes, because they'd carry on cooking as the liquid cooled).

Oh yes, remember I said you could cheat? Here's something worth knowing about ... a Spanish product which I've only recently noticed on supermarket shelves: Eazy fried onions. My rule is never to buy ready-prepared products containing ingredients I don't keep in my larder: here we have 90% finely selected onions, 9% olive oil, salt, and citric acid. I dare say the olive oil isn't as good as mine, and it's true that you can taste the citric acid, so this is no good for, say, pissaladiere where the onion is the main point of the dish. But as a short-cut when cooking for a crowd, or when you haven't got any prepared onions in the fridge (I nearly always cook double the amount I need to save time later) ... well, they're great.

This post is to celebrate two years of Weekend Herb Blogging, which comes from Kalyn's Kitchen. Kalyn is a most generous blogger - she was fantastically helpful to us when Ilva and I started Heart of the Matter. WHB has become a food blogger's institution, a great place to look for healthy recipes. Thanks Kalyn ... happy anniversary!


Kalyn Denny said...

Sounds very delicious! I like saffron a lot, but other than rice I'm never sure how to use it. Thanks for helping celebrate the two year anniversary of WHB!

Anonymous said...

The recipe sounds great. My English bloke hated corn and only used corn from a tin for bait while fishing! Oh, but he never tried our fresh local corn on the cob. He's a fan of corn now.

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

I'm tired. And in a hurry. Thank you, thank you!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Fast, easy and delicious AND celebrates Kalyn's 2yr WHB! That's totally a winning combo.

Wendy said...

Sounds delicious. Looking forward to trying this out.
I was reading Nigella's new book and she mentions the same jars of onions you do. My only problem with them would be that I love the smell of cooking onions and would feel cheated without it! :)

Cottage Smallholder said...

This sounds great. I think that you are right the saffron and fresh corn would make the difference.

I used to be quite stingy when it came to saffron and finally twigged that you need a reasonable amount to make a difference. We now have saffron on our Christmas lists which guarantees a decent supply for the rest of the year!

Vida said...

Great blog Joanna, I love it! Vida x x x

Joanna said...

Thanks Kalyn... Amanda ... Tanna .. Vida

FLDV: As corn is not indigenous in England, we are a little challenged when it comes to dealing with it. We mostly eat it straight off the cob, which I don't much like. I've only recently discovered how good it is stripped off the cob and used in cooking.

Wendy: I know just what you mean, and I only use these in moments of extreme stress. I prefer to cook a lot of onions at once, more than I need, so that the rest can go into the fridge for the next time. That's a huge help to the daily cook, more environmentally friendly - and you get the bonus of the kitchen smelling good enough to eat ;)

Great idea Fiona - and I will put it on my list of things to GIVE people who would appreciate it (I like to give presents that eventually disappear, rather than creating clutter ... paper and paint for children, food for adults, etc). And you're right, you need quite a lot of saffron, otherwise it's not worth using.