Spicy Fish Stew

Exams are over! Or almost – kid #2 only has Chinese listening comprehension exam left and kid #1 was done last week. Now that kid #1’s exams are over we are seeing even less of him than before. I’m getting a little taste of empty nest syndrome; I suppose that is only to be expected with teenagers. Well since kid #1 is out tonight I decided to do a fish stew. 

Hubs and I have always loved fish stew or soup or bouillabaisse. The reason why I seldom make it is because kid #1 hates seafood. It probably resulted from early childhood food allergies. Kid #1 was allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, wheat and fish. He started off his food allergies at the age of 9 months when he blew up in hives after a tiny nibble at baby biscuit. I felt terribly guilty because apart from the fact that I had fed him that biscuit, it was also probably likely that his allergic predisposition was due to my genetics. Although I faithfully breastfed him for 18 months, he took some years to grow out of his allergies. Complicated food avoidance limited his food vocabulary severely and I remember at one point, the only thing we could feed him when we went out was chicken rice. So he has grown up not liking seafood or chocolates. Kid #2 was allergic to eggs and now hardly eats eggs too. She used not just to have hives but would fairly immediately vomit when she came into contact with egg. She was the reason that I discovered that baguettes are covered with egg wash! Both kids, thanks to their different allergies therefore grew up with different food exposure and now have diametrically opposite tastebuds, which makes cooking for the family really difficult. One thing they are united in however is the fact that they both don’t eat durians and curry. I’ve always been a little disappointed that I raised kids who are so un-Singaporean in their tastes.

So this fish stew is for neither of the kids. Selfishly the stew is for hubs and I – lots of spice, bursting with robust flavours. It was good. And once in a while the adults get to eat what they like.

Spicy Fish Stew

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 300 g halibut fillets, cut into 1.5 – 2 inch pieces
  • 12 – 15 peeled and deveined prawns
  • 3 leeks, white parts chopped into 0.5 cm circles
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup port
  • 1 L chicken or fish stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garam marsala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. SautĂ© the onions and leeks for about 10 minutes till softened and caramelized. 
  2. Add the chickpeas and spices; cumin, ginger, garam marsala, turmeric, coriander powder and fry for another 2 minutes more.
  3. Add the soup stock, tomato paste and the port. Simmer for another 20 – 30 minutes.
  4. Add the fish and prawns and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve hot.


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