This robust fish and tomato stew comes from Italy. There are many versions, but all require flavorsome sun-ripened tomatoes and a good fish stock. Make sure you buy some of the fish whole so that you can simply simmer them, remove the cooked flesh and stain the deliciously flavored juices to make the stock.

  • 900 g / 2 lb mixture of fish fillets or steaks, such as monkfish, cod, haddock, or hake
  • 900 g / 2 lb mixture of conger eel, red or grey mullet, snapper or small white fish, prepared according to type
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 celery stick, coarsely chopped
  • 225 g / 8 oz squid
  • 225 g / 8 oz fresh mussels
  • 675 g / 1½ lb ripe tomatoes
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 ml /1 tsp saffron threads
  • 150 ml / ¼ pint / ⅔ cup dry white wine
  • 90 ml / 6 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • croutons, to serve
  1. Remove any skin and bones from the fish fillets or steaks, cut the fish into large pieces, and reserve. Place the bones in a pan with all the remaining fish.
  2. Add the halved onion and the celery and just cover with water. Bring almost to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Lift out the fish and remove the flesh from the bones. Strain the stock.
  3. To prepare the squid, twist the heat and tentacles away from the body. Cut the head from the tentacles. Discard the body contents and peel away the mottled skin. Wash the tentacles and bodies and dry on kitchen paper.
  4. Scrub the mussels, discarding any that are damaged, or open ones that do not close when sharply tapped.
  5. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel off the skins and chop the flesh coarsely.
  6. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the sliced onion and the garlic, and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add the squid and the uncooked white fish, which you reserved earlier, and cook quickly on all sides. Remove the fish from the pan using a slotted spoon.
  7. Add 475 ml / 16 fl oz / 2 cups strained reserved fish stock, the saffron, and tomatoes to the pan. Pour in the wine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the mussels, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that remain closed.
  8. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and put all the fish in the pan. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the croutons.