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Cornish Fish Stew

Made at J Sheekey | Serves 4-6

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For the fish stew
4 shelled scallops
400g assorted white fish fillet
2 x 100g gurnard fillets, cut in half
200g mussels, cleaned
50g white crab meat
100g fennel, finely sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
400ml Cornish fish soup (see below – this needs to be made in advance)
100g tomatoes, diced
½ bunch chopped herbs (eg chervil, flat leaf parsley, dill and tarragon)
Saffron mayonnaise (see below – this needs to be made in advance)

For the fish stock 
(yields approximately 2 litres of fish stock)
4kg white fish bones
1 leek, trimmed, washed and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 head celery, chopped
1 lemon, sliced thickly
1 tsp fennel seeds
10 black peppercorns
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
125ml dry white wine
Small bunch parsley or parsley stalks
2.4 litres cold water
Sunflower oil for frying


For the Cornish fish soup
250g red mullet, roughly chopped
250g gurnard, roughly chopped
250g whiting, roughly chopped
250g fish bones (your fishmonger should give you these)
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of saffron strands
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 juniper berries
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 x 230g tin chopped tomatoes
125ml white wine
2 litres fish stock (see above)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the saffron mayonnaise
100ml fish soup
Pinch of saffron strands
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 slice white bread, crust removed
1 medium-sized free range egg yolk
40ml extra virgin olive oil
40ml sunflower oil
Squeeze of lemon juice


For the fish stew
Pour half the olive oil into a non-stick frying pan, and fry the white fish and gurnard for 2 minutes on either side. Remove to one side.

Wipe the pan with kitchen roll and add the other half of the olive oil. Sauté the scallops for a minute on each side. Remove and keep to one side.

Re-heat the fish soup in a large oven-proof casserole. Bring to the boil, add finely sliced fennel, mussels and tomatoes. When the mussels have opened, add the fish, scallops, crab meat and chopped herbs. Cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes and serve directly from the casserole with crusty bread and saffron mayonnaise.

For the fish stock
NB this can be done well in advance and frozen if necessary; if you don’t have time to make your own stock, then you can use good quality organic fish stock cubes instead

You should be able to get bones from your fishmonger, particularly if asking them to fillet whole fish.

Wash the bones in cold water. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat a splash of oil and lightly cook the onion, leek, celery, fennel seeds, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaf, without colour. After 5 minutes, add fish bones and wine. Bring to the boil and reduce by half. Add water, bring to the boil again, occasionally skimming off any scum that forms and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add lemon and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain everything through a sieve. Season if necessary. This will keep in the fridge for 5 days or you can freeze it until needed.

For the Cornish fish soup
NB you can freeze any soup you have left over
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and gently fry fish, bones, vegetables, spices and herbs for about 10 minutes. Add tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, white wine and fish stock (a good quality cube is fine). Bring to the boil, season and simmer for 50 minutes. Liquidise one third of the soup (bones and all), return to the saucepan and simmer gently for another 20 minutes.

Strain the soup through a sieve or conical strainer. Re-season if necessary.

For the saffron mayonnaise
Pour the fish soup into a saucepan, add saffron and garlic, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Break in bread and stir well. Remove from the heat and cool a little. Pour into a blender and mix well with egg yolk. Blend the oils together, and slowly trickle into the mixture, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides. When thick, season and add lemon juice. Give the mixture a final blend. Transfer to a bowl.

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