This is without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite recipes for fish! It is quick to put together but complex in its flavor. Saffron, tomatoes, fennel and leeks – classic Mediterranean flavors – cook together to create this incredibly delicious broth. The chunky tomatoes give some substance to the broth. You can prepare the broth ahead of time. Simply re-heat it before adding your fish. Any firm white fish can be used such as cod, halibut, rockfish, or bass. Try it with shrimp or scallops. I have even poached chicken in the broth! Instead of adding potatoes to the broth, it can be served with steamed rice. This elegant dish is perfect for entertaining or a casual family meal. Pass some crusty bread for sopping up those delicious juices!
Poached Fish in Saffron Tomato Broth
- 1½ to 2 pounds firm white fish filets, remove skin and cut into serving portions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, rinsed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 small fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced (about 2 cups), save some fronds for garnish
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon saffron threads
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 (3-inch) strip orange zest
- 1 large (12 ounce) Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into ¾” cubes (or omit and serve with steamed rice)
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan or stock pot, large enough to fit the fish in a single layer in the bottom of the pan. A deep skillet will also work. But it must be deep enough to hold the sauce and fish.
- Add leek, fennel and salt and cook for about 4 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften and turn translucent.
- Add tomato paste and stir and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add saffron, cayenne, flour, and garlic and cook for about one minute.
- Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, chicken stock and orange zest. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add potatoes and cook until almost done before adding the fish.
- Nestle the fish into the simmering liquid. Cover with a lid or tin foil and cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Carefully turn the fish over once during cooking, trying not to break it up. The potatoes should be thoroughly cooked at the same time.
- Garnish with chopped fennel fronds or Italian parsley.