This fresh and tasty Spicy Fish Stew with Potatoes and Fennel is inspired by the classic Italian saute of fennel, garlic and crushed red pepper. Perfect year-round, I especially like it in the spring when the nights are still chilly but I’m craving lighter dishes.
Fennel is one of those vegetables that lots of people haven’t tried, maybe because they aren’t sure what to do with it. If that’s you, I implore you to purchase some because you are missing out! It’s licorice-like flavor mellows out during cooking, and it’s an interesting complement to the mild fish and tomato broth in this recipe. For this recipe, you don’t use the wispy fennel fronds—cut them off and consider using them to garnish your finished bowls of stew, or save them to mix into a salad. Fennel can also be eaten raw, but it’s flavor will be stronger (I still love it–it’s great added to a cabbage slaw or mixed into a citrus salad).
For this fish stew, feel free to alter the level of spiciness to suit your taste–my spicy tolerance is less than what many prefer.
Photo credit: jlunaphoto
- 2 small heads of fennel (about 1 1/2 pounds), ends trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds round, white potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 (35-ounce) can Italian whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, not drained (if not available, use a 28-oz. can whole tomatoes plus a 14-oz. can diced tomatoes)
- 1 leek, washed well, halved lengthwise, and finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 (8-oz.) bottle of clam juice or 1 cup fish stock
- 1/3 cup dry white wine, optional
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds mild white fish (haddock, cod, pollack or hake), cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Stir together the stew base ingredients in the slow cooker crock. Cover and cook 8 hours on LOW (or 4-5 hours on HIGH, or until potatoes are tender).
- Stir in the finishing ingredients (fish and lemon juice). Cover and cook on HIGH for 15-20 minutes until the stew is heated through and the fish is cooked.
- Stir mixture gently before serving so that the fish stays in large pieces. Garnish with fennel fronds or a wedge of lemon (or both), if desired.