I first cooked this dish after working with a talented chef Sean Gerard. Back in the day we were the pioneers of the Gastro pub food movement in mid Wales (something that has now run it’s course sadly, I now feel) I was head chef of the Griffin Inn Llyswen he was Chef owner of the Nantyffin Cidermill.
We were cooking up fabulous seasonal fare, championing locally reared and grown produce. Both passionate and young we forged ahead with our own rustic take on restaurant classics bringing these dishes to the masses in our own humble pub surroundings.
It was an instant hit and with food critics such as Egon Ronay acknowledging us for our efforts the whole movement gathered momentum.
But I must also acknowledge one other chef for showing us the light (and I’m certain Sean would say the same) for on our shelves never too far from grasp in our kitchens was a little book “Leaves from The Walnut Tree” by renown local chef Franco Taruschio.
For 25 years he had been working away at his little pub restaurant “The Walnut Tree” changing peoples perceptions of pub food, educating suppliers and inspiring locals to start producing products for his kitchen. So it was via Sean that I first cooked a dish from Franco’s book, Brodetto. I have adapted my recipe from this classic and my recipe is more in the Ancona-style which is also featured in the book but only uses Sole, so here it is enjoy….
1.8kg approx 4lb of mixed seasonal fish filleted, to include: monkfish, hake, coley, mullet (red or grey) gurnard, mussels and Dublin bay prawns as available.
1 litre of good quality fish stock made from the trimmings of the above fish.
12 king scallops cleaned
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 stick of celery finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
2 large red peppers, roasted de-seeded and skin peeled off, then diced.
A good pinch of saffron strands infused in a little warm water.
1 bouquet garni (2 sprigs of flat parsley, 1 sprig of thyme, 2 bayleaves)
A good glug of virgin Olive oil
6 vine tomatoes, roasted on the vine till soft.
150ml 1/4 pint of dry white wine
150ml 1/4 of Pernod or pastis
2 lemons zested and juiced
400g tin of chopped plum tomatoes
In a large casserole pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onion, celery, carrot and the garlic.
Fry lightly until golden, then add the white wine and then the pastis, boil rapidly for 3-4 minutes to reduce liquid and evaporate alcohol.
Add tinned tomatoes, fish stock and saffron liquid, then add the bouquet garni, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer gently for 1 hour. Now add the roasted vine tomatoes and roasted peppers, continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
Add the fish meat (except the scallops) and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the prawns and the mussels, place a lid on the pan to create steam then remove pan of the heat to stand for 5 minutes.
Mean while heat some oil in a non stick pan and fry the scallops over a high heat to sear them for 2 minutes each side, then set aside, warm some serving bowls.
Remove the lid from the casserole the mussels should have steamed open in the residual heat, ladle out fish and sauce into bowls, arrange mussels around the bowl and garnish with scallops, chopped parsley and perhaps some chives.
Serve with warm country style crusty bread.