On the menu

Recipe: Tomato and fennel fish stew with garlic and oregano bread

A simple and delicious meal

Just because you’re self-catering in a camper van doesn’t mean you can’t eat well, say Claire Thomson and Matt Williamson in their new book. This fish stew is simple and delicious. Look out for firm, white, locally caught fish at the fishmongers or fish counter (if you are near the sea, ask the fishmonger’s advice). Serve it with oregano garlic bread, which you can wrap in foil and either toast in the fire if you’re having one, or warm through in a dry pan over a moderate-low heat.

Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp good olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped or sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped or sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional), plus more to taste
  • a big pinch of salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ a can of chopped tomatoes, or about 1 cupful of chopped fresh tomato
  • 700ml fish or vegetable stock, or water
  • 700g firm white fish, cut into bite-size pieces
  • juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • black pepper

for the garlic and oregano bread: 

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 100g butter, softened (about 7 tbsp)
  • 1 large baguette, slashed at 3cm intervals

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a wide, shallow pan over a moderate heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic, and the chilli flakes (if using). Season well with the big pinch of salt and some black pepper and cook for 10 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
  • While that’s cooking, prepare the garlic bread. Mash the crushed garlic and the oregano into the butter and season with salt and pepper. Use the mixture to butter the slashed bread. Wrap it in foil and place it on a heat source (in the embers of your campfire or in a dry pan) to allow it to warm through and melt the butter.
  • Add the fennel seeds, oregano and chopped tomatoes to the onion and celery in the pan and continue to cook for another couple of minutes, until rich and thick. Add the stock or water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the fish, then cover with a lid and simmer until the fish is opaque and just cooked through – 5-7 minutes should do, depending on the size and thickness of the fish.
  • Add the lemon zest and check the seasoning, adjusting with lemon juice and more salt, pepper and chilli flakes accordingly.
  • To serve, ladle the stew into bowls with plenty of the sauce and serve with the garlic bread alongside.
Camper Van Cooking

Taken from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thomson and Matt Williamson, published by Quadrille at £20. To buy from The Week Bookshop for £16.99, call 020-3176 3835 or visit theweekbookshop.co.uk.

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