Seafood stew

It’s bucketing down in Sydney this week. The call-out for wintery food continues. So to match the wild and angry ocean, I decided to make a seafood stew. Seafood sometimes receives a tepid ‘oh yay’ of under-enthusiasm in our household, so we don’t tend to eat it day in day out (oysters and mussels are blacklisted by some family members). I knew something with spices and flavour was required to get rid of any tepid responses.

So it was time for Karen Martini. As I was cooking this dish, I was telling my bloke why her recipes are so reliably great and well worth the effort, as the mix of spices creates such a depth of flavour and zzzzzzzz…….at this point his eyes glazed over and he fell asleep standing up. I realised my love affair with Karen Martini recipes must stay secret, and I shouldn’t share with anyone unless they are also having a secret recipe love affair with her.

I figure if you’re reading this blog then you probably like cooking, and probably appreciate her recipes, so I can continue (jump to the ingredients if you feel snoozy).


The recipe that inspired me to make my stew, was her Seafood pie with rough puff pastry (from Where the heart is). I have made the pie recipe before (in non Coeliac times) and it is superb. I wanted a soupy stew though, and also didn’t want to source or make puff pastry (apparently there is good GF puff, sweet and shortcrust pastry at Thomas Dux – thanks Sara). So the seafood pie morphed into a seafood stew. The flavour of this dish is complex and entirely beautiful. And highly appealing to my non fish and prawn loving bloke. It served the 2 of us, with a decent bowl of leftovers.


Fresh fish (I bought a lovely big piece of Barramundi – enough to feed 2), cut into small pieces (skin off)
Fresh raw prawns (I used 8 as I was the only one eating them), peeled and deveined
(Note: you could also add 150g of scallops but they are blacklisted too in our household)
2 pinches saffron threads
1 heaped teaspoon GF plain flour
700 – 800ml fish stock (I used chicken as didn’t have any fish stock – still worked)
1/2 a cup or so of extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, peeled & sliced (or shallots which would have been better – they were in the original recipe)
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 long red chilli, sliced (de-seed if you don’t want it too hot)
2 leeks, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
1 teaspoon ground fennel
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 sprigs dill, chopped
Optional: risoni or other small pasta – about half a cup

To serve

Mashed potato (if desired – I just had the stew on it’s own)
Extra cut chilli if you like it hot

What to do

The stewy part: heat a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy based casserole pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, red chilli, leek, ras el hanout, fennel and saffron. Cook until the leek and onion are soft, stirring constantly (can take a while – 10 – 15 minutes). Season to taste. Then sprinkle the flour over the mixture, mix it through and cook for a minute or so, constantly stirring. Whisk in the stock, then increase the heat and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for a good 5 minutes. The stewy part can now be left until you’re nearly ready to eat.  (Note: If you’d like to bulk it up a bit, you can add some cooked risoni (or other small pasta) to the stewy part. I cooked some up for my bloke, and then just added it to his bowl when serving and not mine).

The seafood part: in a large frypan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the fish pieces and sear for a minute. Take them out and do the same to the prawns. Once all your seafood is cooked, add them into the stewy part, and gently stir.

Serving: increase the heat of the now combined seafood and stewy part, then stir through the lemon juice, lemon zest and dill. Serve up and taste the angry ocean.

Seafood stew