Friday, April 24, 2015

Caldeirada De Peixe

     Portuguese Fish Stew!
     This healthy Portuguese fish stew is cooked very slowly.  Basically this traditional stew is is perfect for those who are looking for a great tasting meal that requires very little effort to make.  Stirring the stew is not even required.  Stirring will break up the pieces of fish and the goal is to retain large pieces of fish.  There are no difficult techniques involved with cooking this Portuguese recipe.  In fact, the lazier the cook, the better the Caldeirada De Peixe will be!  

     Fish Stew or Fisherman's Stew is a popular meal anywhere that there is a lake, river or ocean.  Often there is very little difference between a fish stew and a chowder.  The original French chowder was made with a broth and no milk was in the recipe.  The same can be said about Portuguese fish stews.  After tomatoes, potatoes and peppers were introduced during the Colombian Exchange, Portuguese Fish stews transformed into the grandfather of the Manhattan style red clam chowder recipe.
     Portuguese fish stew is made with a dry white wine broth.  This fish stew is not spicy at all.  The flavors are very mild and healthy tasting.  Today's recipe is a very basic Portuguese fish stew recipe variation.
     Some Portuguese fish stews have extra ingredients like shrimp, mussels, clams and choriso sausage.  Portuguese fish stew is usually made with fish scraps or oily fish like bonito, mackerel or eel.  White fish scraps are nice in this stew.  From one coastal town to the next or from one household to the next, the list of ingredients varies with the catch of the day or a cooks personal touch.

     I chose a piece of Pacific Ling Cod for today's recipe.  Cod is a popular mild tasting whitefish and it used to be caught worldwide in cooler waters.  Atlantic Cod is nearly extinct from overfishing.  Pacific Ling Cod has been listed as sustainable in recent years, but the overall numbers are way down.  Always check the sustainability rating of Ling Cod before making a purchase.

     Choose a good dry white wine to make this stew with.  A bitter, cheap, poorly crafted white wine will not give this stew a nice quality flavor.  A well crafted bargain priced white wine that you would be happy drinking at a table is the best choice.  I used a French Domaine White Burgundy Chardonnay to make this stew with.  The French wine actually was sold for a bargain price of $3.00 per bottle at a close out sale!

     Traditionally, Caldeirada De Peixe is slowly simmered on its own, while fishing village workers get other tasks done.  This is a stew that you can walk away from without having to worry about something going wrong.  The golden rule is simple.  Never stir Caldeirada De Peixe!
     Caldeirada De Peixe:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion!  Any sustainable fish can be used to make this recipe.  
     For more than one portion of this Portuguese fish stew, simply add more layers of each of the ingredients in the pot.  Adjust the seasonings for the larger amount of ingredients and broth.
     Step 1:  Cut these vegetables into large bite size pieces:
     - 1/2 of a peeled russet potato
     - 1/2 of a green bell pepper
     - 1/2 of a medium size onion
     - 1 large peeled seeded 1 ripe tomato
     - 1/2 of a roasted red bell pepper
     Step 2:  Place the vegetables in a sauce pot.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add a 8 ounces of Pacific Ling Cod Filet, that is cut into large thick pieces.
     Add 2 bay leaves.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 10 whole cilantro leaves.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of dry white wine.
     Add enough water to barely cover the ingredients.
     Step 4:  Place the pot on a burner that is set to medium high heat.
     As soon as the first signs of boiling are seen in the pot, reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Do not cover the pot with a lid!
     Very gently simmer the fish stew, till the vegetables are tender and a nice fish stew aroma develops.  (About 45 minutes.)
     *Do not stir the caldeirada!  If the stew is stirred, then the fish will break up into small pieces and the stew broth will look cloudy. 
     Step 5:  When the caldeirada de peixe is done cooking, remove the bay leaves.
     Carefully ladle the stew and broth into a bowl, so the large fish pieces do not break up.
     Sprinkle a little bit of chopped Italian Parsley on the stew.
     Drizzle a few drops of virgin olive oil over the stew.
     Serve with crusty baguette style bread.
     The aroma of this slowly simmered stew is nice!  Portuguese Caldeirada De Peixe is a very healthy meal!   

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