My favourite comfort food for this cold weather is a warm bowl of stew.
A seafood pasta stew is a quick and nutritious meal, mainly because fish is rich in EPA and DHA, which are absorbed directly, instead of being converted in the body from Omega 3 when present in supplements or other ingredients like chia seeds.
Regular consumption of seafood and fish prevents conditions like depression, mental stress and tiredness.
I chose monkfish because it has a great meaty texture, but any other fish of your liking is also suitable.
I suppose living in Portugal has its perks when it comes to analysing the variety of options we have in that department.
Prawn and monkfish pasta stew
▪ 7-9 fresh medium-sized prawns
▪ 400 grams deboned monkfish
▪ 2 onions
▪ 5 cloves of garlic
▪ 2 bay leaves
▪ 3 tablespoons brandy
▪ 2 tablespoons white wine
▪ 1/2 celery stick
▪ ½ can of tomatoes
▪ Handful of cilantro
▪ ½ lime
▪ 200 grams big shell pasta
▪ 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
▪ ½ teaspoon paprika
Making a stock with leftover bones and prawn heads and tails doesn’t take that much time, plus it adds much more flavour than the concentrated cubes bought in the supermarket, not to mention the nutritional benefits.
By making a big dose, part can be frozen to be used in any other fish dish, sauce or stock for a sea-flavoured risotto.
Debone the monkfish and peel the prawns, cut both into cubes, reserve the bones, heads and skins for the stock.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a tall pan; slightly fry one bay leaf and two crushed garlic cloves, skin on. Add the prawn skins and let brown on each side before adding brandy, and then the white wine to deglaze the base of the pan.
Add half an onion cut into cubes, part of the cilantro, celery, salt, pepper and water until ¾ of the pan is full. Do not let the stock boil; it should only bubble slightly before keeping the stove on minimum heat. Make sure to gather all foam that surfaces to the edge with a spoon or ladle, and cook no longer than 40 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid.
Fry chopped remaining garlic, onion, paprika and bay leaf in olive oil. Add tomatoes, let fry some more before adding the pasta and stock. When pasta becomes al dente, check salt and pepper, add the seafood, cover and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Let set covered for another 5 minutes. Serve with chopped cilantro, a dash of freshly-squeezed lime juice and bread for dipping.
By Megan Melling
Megan Melling’s journey into the food world started three years ago when she decided to enrol in Cookery and Food Production in Portugal. She was born American, but grew up in the Algarve, so she gets the best of two opposite culinary cultures. She is currently working as a cook in Lisbon and documenting all of her personal recipes on her blog