Brodetto (Italian fish stew)

Preparation time
less than 30 mins

Cooking time
1 to 2 hours

Serves 2

By Matt Tebbutt


For the fish stock

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbs chopped parsley stalks
  • few sprigs thyme
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz white fish bones

For the stew

  • 1 medium squid and tentacles, chopped into rings
  • 1 fillet sea bass, chopped into chunks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 6 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 50ml/2fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 100ml/4fl oz white wine
  • 1 x 150g/5oz piece thick white fish, for example halibut, turbot or brill, cut into chunks
  • 1 handful mussels
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 4 slices crusty bread, grilled


  1. To make the stock, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, celery, fennel, garlic, and herbs. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the fish bones. Pour in enough water to cover the bones and simmer gently for 1 hour.

  2. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables and bones. Pour the stock back into the saucepan and cook, until reduced by half. Set aside.

  3. Heat the grill to high and grill the seabass and squid for 2–3 minutes. Set aside.

  4. To make the stew, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion, garlic, celery, and fennel until they begin to soften.

  5. Add the coriander and fennel seeds, chili and tomatoes. Cook for several minutes then add the vinegar and white wine and reduce by half.

  6. Add the fish stock, white fish, mussels, grilled seabass, and squid. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5–8 minutes, until the mussel shells have opened and the fish is cooked.

  7. Spoon into two bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve with plenty of crusty bread.

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