Fish Stew with Fennel and Potatoes
Liberally adapted from Bon Appetit

The first time I made the stew, it was comforting but a bit bland. So I took some liberties and kicked it up in the flavor department. I added some shallots for mellow sweetness, and lemon juice in the end, to brighten up a lovely but somewhat lackluster sauce. When I doubled the recipe (I don’t think that the initial amount can comfortably feed 4 people – more like 2), I took the oil and garlic down a notch as both seemed a bit too heavy. Having made pretty regularly for the last four months or so, I can say that this dish works wonders with young spring garlic or garlic scapes. If you’re making this in the dead of winter, go easy on the garlic – as it can be quite dominant a flavor.

1/3 cup olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound small waxy potatoes (such as baby Yukon Gold), scrubbed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped
3 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup crème fraîche
3 pounds skinless flounder or fluke fillet, cut into 4-inch pieces (cod and hake can also work)
4 to 5 sprigs plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook shallots, stirring, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add potatoes, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add fennel and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is soft, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 4 minutes.

2. Add 3 cups water to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes (err on the more cooked side for potatoes, they can retain their firmness a bit longer). Stir in crème fraîche. Add flounder and dill sprigs, cover pot, and reduce heat. Simmer until fish is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Fish out dill sprigs from stew and discard. Stir in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped dill.

Serves 4.

© 2019 Olga Massov