Provencal Fish Stew

Fish is an ingredient that with care can be combined with with strong flavours which will compliment the fish. If the fish is fresh and meaty enough it will handle strong flavours such as chili, aniseed, fennel and more. Don’t be afraid to try stronger flavours with fish. Sometimes the result will surprise you!

This is a typical use of vegetables, such as fennel, celery, carrots and onion to form the base for a delicious infused fish with herbs. It doesn’t have to be expensive fish so look for the cheaper cuts and have this as a classic lunchtime treat with a beer or glass of chilled white wine.

If you wanted to, you could cut the fish smaller and add more stock and turn it into a soup.

Please note all quantities are approximate. I like to use a mix of fish just to make the dish more interesting. Meaty fish like monkfish, cod, roughy are great for this.


Serves 4 – scale up as required

1lb of fillet of fresh, white fish with bones removed and fish cut into even size and thickness chunks of about 1-1/2 inches
400ml of aniseed liqueur (Pernod/Pastisse)
Teaspoon of saffron threads
grated chopped zest of a lemon
3 tbsp. olive oil or 100g of butter (half olive oil/butter is good)
Large onion, finely chopped
2 – 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
4 stalks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
4 large carrots finely chopped Fennel bulb, finely chopped
Several sprigs of fresh oregano, thyme and parsley. Use dried mixed herbs if you cant get fresh.
1000ml of fish stock, or water if you don’t have stock.
1lb of tomatoes, concasse (skinned, de-seeded and chopped)
2 tbsp tomato paste.
12 small new potatoes (Jersey Royals are ideal), scrubbed and cut into halves or quarters depending on size
salt and pepper to taste
basil – torn and sprinkled on the stew when served


Put the fish into a bowl with saffron, lemon zest and Pernod. Set aside and stir occasionally. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, garlic, saute until slightly golden, add celery, carrots and fennel. Saute until soft. Add the herbs and stir well. Add the tomatoes with the tomato paste into the pot. Stir well to combine and then add stock and potatoes. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. When potatoes are almost soft, taste and add salt and pepper. Add in fish and liquid into the saucepan. Stir gently to mix and check often. Cook for 5 minutes or until the fish is white, plump and slightly soft, being careful as the fish will continue to cook so be careful not to over cook.

Serve in round dishes with the torn basil sprinkled on each dish. Serve with crisp fresh French bread or a garlic loaf and butter.