Ian McEwan’s Fish Stew

Here’s another entry in our Thanksgiving series of literary recipes–a recipe for fish stew, adapted from Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday. The recipe is Henry Perowne’s, the novel’s protagonist who makes it for dinner on the titular day. The adaptation below comes from journalist Damian Barr, who wrote an excellent article about recipes in literature for The Times.

Into a stockpot of boiling water (a litre or more), put the bones of three skates (or other boned fish), with heads intact. If you have no obliging local fishmonger, use a pound or more of white fish.

Add a dozen or so mussels to the stock. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, strip and chop three onions and eight fat cloves of garlic. Soften over a low heat in a casserole with a lot of olive oil. When they have melted sufficiently, add: a couple of crushed red chillies, a pinch of saffron, some bay leaves, orange-peel gratings, oregano, five anchovy fillets, two cans of peeled tomatoes

When these have blended together in the heat, add a quarter bottle of white wine. Then strain off the stock and add to the casserole. Simmer the mix for 20 minutes.

Rinse and/or scrub the clams and remaining mussels and place in a bowl.

Cut the monkfish tails into chunks and place in a separate bowl.

Wash the tiger prawns and add to the monkfish bowl. Keep both bowls refrigerated until ready to cook. Just before dinner, reheat the casserole.

Simmer the clams, monkfish, mussels and prawns in the casserole for ten minutes.

Eat the stew with brown bread, or garlic bread, salad and a hearty red wine.

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