There a few dishes that always make me happy and this is one of them.   There’s something about simple stewed fish that is simply comforting.   Not too fussy, no special ingredients needed here yet it always delivers.   Here’s a little know fact about me—I HATE frying.   I hate bobbing and weaving trying to avoid the hot oil splatters; just this year I was burnt right between my eyebrow and eye by hot oil so I only fry when it’s absolutely worth it.   And this IS worth it.

Yes, I can make stewed fish without frying the fish first, but I highly recommend doing it this way.   Not only does it add flavor but it prevents the delicate flesh of the fish from falling apart as easily as it does when it isn’t fried.   The fish is lightly dusted with flour then fried until its golden brown and crispy then nestled snuggly in a warm tomato sauce that’s simmered with garlic, thyme, ginger and a single bay leaf.   I don’t know about you but I’m salivating.   I used boneless tilapia filet but snapper will be excellent as well.   I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Fish Stew

Ingredients for fish

2 lbs Tilapia filets

1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt

1 cup flour

¼ tsp black pepper

juice of one lime

Oil to fry

Ingredients for tomato sauce

1 large onion, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed

½ tsp crushed ginger

About 10 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

½ scotch bonnet pepper, seeds removed

2 vegetable bouillons

2 cups chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp ketchup

2 scallion, finely chopped

2 ½ cups water

1 tbsp canola oil

To fry fish: Place tilapia filets in a large bowl with juice of 1 lime and 1 tbsp of salt.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes, and then rinse will cool water.   In a large place, place flour, 1 tsp salt and black pepper then stir to combine.   In a large frying pan over high heat, add enough canola oil to deep fry the fish.  While oil heats, dredge fish with flour on both sides making sure to shake off the excess.  Place into hot oil and fry until golden brown and crispy.   Set aside.

To make the sauce:  Place canola oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.   Add onion and sautée until soft, about 5 minutes.  Next add garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme and bay leaf and cook until the garlic and ginger becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.   Add tomato and cook for 10 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften.  Next add water, vegetable bouillons and ketchup and bring to a boil.    Lower to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes.   When sauce has thickened just a bit, add fried fish.  Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot.  Cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring.   Remove from heat and garnish with chopped scallion.  Serve over hot rice.