Monday, 5 October 2009
Cataplana Monkfish Tomato and Paprika Stew
Is it a bed pan? Is it a UFO? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a copper Portuguese cooking vessel called a Cataplana of course!
It was an inspired present from Cowie for my birthday and had sat since April on my bedroom shelf taunting me. So I decided to take it with us on our trip around the South West. And I am delighted we did.
On a glorious evening sitting outside our tent at Higher Rew campsite just outside Salcombe, we looked out across a scene that deserved to be painted rather than waffled about. The heat of the day eased away and the whispy clouds puffed and the dew started to settle.
In the last light of day we lit our BBQ and grilled some aubergines, peppers, courgettes and tomatoes which had been seasoned and brushed with olive oil. Having achieved a delicate char with a beer in hand we set these aside and set the cataplana on the now glowing coals.
Fry two onions and a couple of chillies in some olive oil and then add plenty of garlic once you feel it’s not going to burn.
Then add a tube of tomato paste, some smoked paprika and cook for a minute or so. Then add a jar of pasatta, a slurp of red wine and then your monkfish tail. This dish works best with a firm fish like monkfish that can stand up to the strong flavours and robust cooking… but if you’ve got pollack or another flaky fish then just pop the fish in later on. Close up the cataplana and indulge in some well deserved wine.
Open the lid after 10 minutes to check how things are going and give the stew a stir so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. After 20 – 30 minutes it should be ready. Before serving throw the previously grilled veg and a handful of prawns into the stew and let it heat through.
We simply decanted the stew into a large bowl and tucked in. The combination of deep tomato, spicy paprika and flaky white fish is magnificent. It may not look brilliant in this photo, but you’ll just have to believe me when I say that it is the best thing we’ve cooked this year. It would have been even more awesome if we’d been able to find some good chorizo. But we’ll just have to save that for next time.
Cataplana image at the top is from the CataPlanas website, where I believe Cowie may have purchased it from.