Mediterranean Fish Dish for Christmas Eve

‘Twas the night before Christmas and everyone was wondering what to eat. But fear not, I’m putting the ‘sea” in Christmas this year! I’ve got you covered with the perfect fish dish for a Christmas Eve feast.

You don’t even need to make a fish stock for this wonderful dish — the aromatics and anchovies add a great depth of flavour. Even if you don’t like anchovies, use them. The dish doesn’t taste like anchovies at all!

All the experts agree, the Mediterranean diet is the best one to adopt for ongoing health. Plus it’s so quick and easy to make so there is more time for you to relax, kick off and enjoy the festivities!

Mediterranean Fish Dish for Christmas Eve

Serves 4

  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4 anchovy fillets

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped

  • 1 celery stalk, chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, with fronds; dice the bulb and reserve the fronds for serving
  • 
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) filtered water

  • 4 thyme sprigs, tied in a bundle with kitchen string

  • 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) firm white fish, such as ling or cod, pin-boned, skin removed, and cut into large pieces
  • juice of 1 lemon

Method

Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic cloves and anchovies into a paste. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion, celery and fennel for 3–4 minutes, or until softened.

Add the mashed garlic and anchovies. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute,
or until the mixture is fragrant, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika and saffron, if using.

Cook, stirring often, for 10–15 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit and the mixture is aromatic.

Stir in the water and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the fish, then cover and simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.

Remove from the heat and remove the thyme sprigs. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve immediately, scattered with the reserved fennel fronds.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve,

Lee xo

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