Over many years I have cooked with one of my friends who now lives in Queensland. I help her cook, she helps me, and we respect each other’s taste in food and manner of working in the kitchen. We can chose to work together or ignore each other completely and do our own thing, but together over the many years we have prepared some excellent meals
Recently I spent time with her in Queensland and this fish braise was her idea – she thought it had Sicilian flavours, and it does. I thought that she was using far too much garlic and too many chillies in her recipe for it to be Sicilian, but she carried on regardless. I have to admit that the resulting fish braise tasted great; the flavours melded into a mild, sweet flavoured sauce with subtle tastes. We ended up with a thick fish soup (Zuppa Di Pesce) and ate it with bread .
Ingredients for each pie
I complemented her dish with some roasted peppers – they are in season in Queensland and I was able to purchase red, yellow and green peppers. These complimented the fish braise very well.
Both of us always cook too much food (just in case people are hungry), but also because we can both use leftovers creatively and needless to say we had fish braise and peppers left over, hence individual pies for the next day – these were my idea.
Some people hate anchovies; omit them all together, or use white anchovies if you prefer a milder taste (called boquerones).
For the fish braise:
1k fillets of firm white-fleshed fish (we used Flathead)
10-12 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8-10 long, red chillies (remove the seeds), sliced finely
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
800g red tomatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces (or use tinned)
4- 6 anchovies chopped finely,
¾ cup of chopped parsley, fresh oregano and basil.
Cut fish fillets into serving size pieces, rub with a little salt and pan-fry them in a in a large frying pan with a little of the oil. Remove them and set aside.
Heat the rest of the oil and over medium heat sauté the garlic and chilli until the garlic begins to soften – leave some of the seeds in the chillies if you like hot food.
Stir in chopped anchovies until they dissolve.
Add the wine and evaporate for 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, herbs and a little salt and cook the sauce until it is reduced. (Remember that the anchovies will be salty).
Add the fish pieces and gently press them into the sauce. Ensure that the sauce covers them, and heat through.
Check that the fish is cooked to your liking.
Spoon the fish braise onto plates and serve with some crusty bread.
Use the left over fish to make pies. We also included a layer of roasted peppers on top of the fish before topping with the pastry.
For the pastry:
250g plain flour, 120g cold butter cut into small cubes, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 tbs cold water, a little salt.
Put flour and salt into a bowl, add butter and oil and rub it into the flour until it resembles bread-crumbs. Alternatively use a food processor.
Add just enough cold water to bind the dough together – use the blade of a knife to do this.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 10-15 minutes before rolling out and cutting it into the shapes that will cover the pies.
Spoon cold fish braise into oven-proof bowls (we made 4 individual pies). Do not include too much of the braising liquid – see photo above.
Top with strips of roasted peppers (optional).
Cover with pastry.
Bake in preheated oven, 200C until golden (15-25 minutes), then cool pies on a wire rack.