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Spanish Fish Stew and My Potato Dilemma

September 10, 2011 by Joan Nova in Fish/Seafood, Spanish/Tapas | 19 Comments

In the NW region of Spain where my maternal grandparents came from fish and potatoes are like ‘love and marriage’…♫ you can’t have one without the other! ♫

While this is not my grandmother’s recipe per se, it is definitely influenced by my heritage — and I think she’d approve. Others may quibble that it’s not actually a “stew” which is defined by ‘boiling or simmering slowly’, but I don’t know what else to call it — and it’s my blog!

It started with a beautiful piece of Peruvian sea bass sitting on ice in the fish market. At that moment, I think I began to channel my grandmother. Subconsciously, I must have known that I would be making a fish stew when I got home because I picked up a potato before I left the store.

Potatoes as a staple. I know most kitchens stock potatoes. Not so much here at FOODalogue. I could never make a dish spur-of-the-moment that called for potatoes because I just don’t keep them on hand. Even though I grew up eating them, we had a parting somewhere along the way.Oh, yeah…I guess it was back when I heard they were high in carbs and white food isn’t good for you. I bought into that and, as a result, I probably eat no more than a few potatoes a year. Yes, a year! But don’t ask how many pounds of pasta or bread I eat. No, don’t!

Saffron, paprika, stuffed olives, wine, capers, piquillo peppers and tomato sauce make this a Spanish-flavored dish and the fragrant sauce was notably enhanced by the juices from the fish.

But, the best thing on the plate?  Las patatas!

It got me thinking about my grandmother, about all the other people who eat potatoes on a regular basis. It’s not only very Spanish, it’s Irish, American and almost every other culture, except I guess some Asian countries.

Time to rethink the FOODalogue ban on potatoes? After dinner, I grabbed my laptop and googled potatoes. According to this source, there’s a new school of thought about potatoes that touts lots of health benefits (as long as you don’t deep fry them!) I clicked on a few others sites which basically corroborated the first…though one site mentioned it was the food most served to sumo wrestlers to keep their weight up. LOL, that’s what I’d been afraid of!

What about you? Are white potatoes a staple in your kitchen? Are you concerned by the carbs and high glycemic index – or do you think the other nutritional benefits outweigh or balance it? I guess like everything else, the answer is moderation. But I’d love to know your thoughts.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spanish Fish Stew
  • sea bass (or other fish)
  • a few shrimp in their shell (for extra flavor)
  • garlic minced
  • potato cubed
  • carrot cubed
  • zucchini cubed
  • green stuffed olives
  • capers
  • piquillo peppers
  • parsley
  • ⅔ cup tomato sauce mixed with ⅓ cup white wine and a few saffron threads
  • dry seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika)
  • bread crumbs
How To
  1. Coat fish with olive oil and dry spices and top with bread crumbs.
  2. Sear bottom of fish in cast iron pan on stove top.
  3. Add tomato-wine-saffron sauce.
  4. Add vegetables, olives, capers and parsley.
  5. Bake in 350 degree oven till potatoes are fork tender and fish flakes.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. bellini says:

    I could never give up potatoes Joan, but I do substitute with yams, parsnips, rice and noodles on occasion. I say everything in moderation!! But back to your stew it is well-balanced and looks very tasty.

  2. I try to make more sweet potato dishes than white potato ones, but I can’t get along without an occasional baked or roasted white potato!

    Both my kids tend to like and eat more orange foods than white ones (and have since they started eating solids), but they never turn up their noses at potatoes of any sort.

  3. mjskit says:

    Great looking fish stew! If we gave up everything that we aren’t suppose to eat, then there would be nothing left to eat! :) I love potatoes, but, like everything – I eat them in moderation. Your stew has so many other vegetables that it is definitely a very healthy stew! Great recipe!
    mjskit recently posted..Christmas – Red and GreenMy Profile

  4. norma says:

    Where did you get that papa…Lovely stew…I can just taste it. I would never give up potatoes, as you say it’s part of our heritage. I think I have a cook book on just potatoes.
    norma recently posted..Pana – BreadfruitMy Profile

  5. “White” things aren’t exactly banned in my kitchen, but they are eaten less and less frequently. We went the low carb way for several years and I still feel guilty when I eat potatoes. However, I would be glad to share a plate of your stew.
    My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Salmon Smothered with Tomatoes and Basil  My Profile

  6. connie says:

    could’t you do the dish with sweet potatoes?

  7. Buela says:

    I rarely eat white rice, and pasta is now made from whole wheat. White potatoes and yams are still in my life but grains are first such as (Israeli coucous) My love goes through 5 lbs of potatoes a week ! So he keeps the potato farmers in business.
    The fish stew is lovely and would not work without the papas soaking up those juices YUM!

  8. Dorothy says:

    Potatoes are part of my heritage so I will certainly try this recipe. It looks beautiful and delicious.

  9. Foodiewife says:

    Like Paula Deen and her butter, I cook potatoes all the time. I love them. It must be my German DNA. This looks dee-lish. So glad you are rethinking the health benefits of spuds. As long as they aren’t deep-fried, I think they’re high in fiber. Of course, baked spuds with all kinds of sour cream and cheese might cancel the benefits!
    Foodiewife recently posted..Country French OmeletMy Profile

  10. Katie says:

    I’m a potato eater – a potato lover – and that may be due to my Irish heritage.

    I’d always choose a white potato over a sweet potato but know a lot of people choose sweet potatoes and think they are making the healthier choice.
    But both white potatoes and sweet potatoes contain a variety of nutrients Here’s the comparison, compliments of

    7-ounce white potato with skin: 220 calories, 5g protein,
    51g carbs, 20mg calcium,
    115mg phosphorus, 2.8mg iron, 16mg sodium, 844mg potassium,
    4g fiber, .22mg thiamin,
    .07mg riboflavin, 3.3mg niacin, 16mg vitamin C

    7-ounce sweet potato:
    208 calories, 3.5g protein,
    49g carbs, 56mg calcium,
    110mg phosphorus, 1mg iron,
    20mg sodium, 693mg potassium,
    5g fiber, 4350 RE vitamin A, .14mg thiamin, .13mg riboflavin, 1.2mg niacin, 49mg vitamin C.

    Each has important nutrients and I think white potatoes have gotten a bad rap!

  11. I LOVE potatoes, the ones in Lebanon are incredibly flavorful and I eat them fried, baked, boiled, any way; in the States I love to buy the organic Klondike gourmet ones, they are delicious panfried with butter and some thyme; potatoes are full of great minerals and vitamins and delicious; what is there to ban?
    tasteofbeirut recently posted..Wings Lebanese-styleMy Profile

  12. I couldn’t give up carbs per se Joan. I always have potatoes on hand and don’t worry too much about this food or that – everything in moderation. What can beat a large potato simply baked in the oven, mashed with melted butter and lots of black pepper. Or a spicy patatas bravas, maybe with a poached egg on top (I made this the other night, it was fab). And talking of fish….fish pie with a topping of mash. No – I could never give up potatoes and I vote they are welcomed back into your life!
    Sally – My Custard Pie recently posted..A little piece of cheese heaven – Tavistock Real Cheese FairMy Profile

  13. Vicki Fillet says:

    Growing up we had potatoes every night for dinner. I still love potatoes, given the choice I would take a baked potatoe over a steak any day! Whether they are white, or yellow or orange I love potatoes. And my least favorite preparation is fried!

  14. Hmm. Spanish dish. Would go perfectly with Spanish wine. Could this be considered a tapas dish?

    I really could not believe you beat me to it on the tapas idea. As soon as we left the house Saturday night I told Steve that I felt tapas was the perfect way to go. It looks like everyone in our group agrees.
    sandra axelrod recently posted..GuanabanasMy Profile

  15. I love what you have created here Joan..your gran would be proud. As for potatoes, I probably don’t cook with them a lot these days…like you I love my bread and pasta. i like sweet potatoes though…and try to keep it all in balance.

  16. Wowww!! This is my type of thing, and yes, as you know, I also grew up with that….and far from regretting it !!!
    Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris recently posted..Back to Work ! News from ©Menu Malbec…..and a “Tomatican” RecipeMy Profile

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  1. […] cauliflower. A little tomato sauce in a container and 1 (uncooked) zucchini leftover from the Spanish fish stew were the inspiration for the pork chops and a few other look-around-the-kitchen ingredients rounded […]

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