A Simple Fish Stew

Mitch Tonks runs RockFish Grill & Seafood Market in Clifton, Bristol. He is an award-winning chef, restaurateur and food writer and has two other seafood restaurants in Dartmouth.

Here’s the Catch

With sustainable fishing top on the agenda, each month new flavour columnist and seafood specialist Mitch Tonks cooks up a storm with his seasonal fish of choice…


I had the great pleasure of travelling on the UK’s last remaining Pullman dining car a couple of weeks ago, and on the journey was given a tour of the kitchen they use on board. It was a great reminder of the limited space available to cook in when travelling; from the galley of a kitchen to the back of a camper van, it can be a great challenge. But I have always said that no matter what the space available, you can still get not just good but great results.

When Matt Dawson and I travelled round the UK in my old 1976 camper van, we cooked up everything from South Devon crab with spaghetti to langoustine thermidor, with just the basic equipment available to us. As with most great food, good quality fresh ingredients are the key so try not to let practicalities get in the way too much – be adventurous. In the camper van kitchen don’t skimp on ingredients, just cut down on the pots and pans and go for a big fish stew like the one in my recipe; and if you’re lucky enough to travel on a boat try something tasty on toast like sardines, anchovies or mackerel.

If I had to give a few tips to help you make the most of limited space I would say: Reduce pots and pans and go for simple dishes. Serve these up in large bowls, family style, so that everyone can dig in.

In the meantime, if you want a little taste of old fashioned luxury I can recommend a trip to London or back on the Pullman carriage!

A Simple Fish stew

Serves 2
For the Aioli
1 egg yolk
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic, pasted
75ml good olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt

For the Stew
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Olive oil
2 chopped tomatoes
Pinch of saffron
3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
Splash Pernod or anise
Splash of white wine
Selection of fish – you can use anything really, mussels, clams, gurnard, monkfish, wrasse, mullet
Sea salt
Parsley or basil chopped, for sprinkling over the top

  1. For the aioli, put the egg yolk in a bowl with the mustard and garlic. Whilst whisking add the olive oil in a steady stream until a thick emulsion is formed. Add the lemon juice, season to taste.
  2. In a large pan, sweat the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add the tomatoes, saffron and thyme and stir together. Add the Pernod and tip the pan away from you allowing it to burn off the alcohol. Add the wine and simmer gently for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and add enough water (Henry could use sea water) to just cover it. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Recipe taken from
The Aga Seafood Cookbook
by Mitch Tonks
published by Absolute Press.
Photo credit Pete Cassidy

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