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Spanish Codfish Stew with Saffron and Orange

Provided by Mel & Sheryl London

Thickened with bread crumbs, spiced with saffron and fennel, perfumed with oranges, this stew mimics the flavors of Spain.

Spanish Codfish Stew with Saffron and Orange


  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely (about 2/3 cup)
  • ½ small fennel bulb, finely chopped (about 1/2cup)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 2 pounds cod fillets, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 14oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes with liquid, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 cup fish stock or water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)


Steep the saffron in the wine and set aside. In a 5 quart heavy Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, fennel and garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes. Add the fish and cook each side for one minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, fennel seed and thyme. Then add the saffron wine mixture, tomatoes, fish stock (or water), bay leaves and orange peel. Bring to boiling point and add ¼ of parsley and the bread crumbs. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Continue to simmer the soup, covered for about 20 minutes more, and then return the fish to the pot along with the orange and lemon juices and the cayenne. Continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes more, or until the fish flakes when tested with the point of a knife.

Just before serving, remove and discard the bay leaf and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Serves 4-6


MEL & SHERYL LONDON are the authors of eleven cookbooks, including “A Seafood Celebration” and “The Fish Lovers” Cookbook.” They are winners of the James Beard Award and the Tastemaker Award and were finalists for the IACP Cookbook Award for “The Gourmet Garage Cookbook.” They have been loyal and loving customers of The Lobster Place since the company first opened its doors in Chelsea Market.