SubPrime Fish Stew – The Big Short

The Film:


The Dish:

The Reason:

Collateralised Debt Obligations aren’t the easiest concept to digest- that is until you have a cameo from Chef Anthony Bourdain to illuminate them: “It goes something like this: A chef buys fish on Friday. Two days later, it can’t be sold as is, it’s now too old and stinky, “So what am I going to do? Throw all this unsold fish in the garbage and take the loss? No way. Whatever crappy levels of the bond I don’t sell, I throw into the seafood stew. [Now] it’s not old fish, it’s a whole new thing.” Welcome to SubPrime Fish Stew. This is not only a metaphor for the innards of the dubious financial products which helped unseat the global economy in 2008 and the theme of The Big Short –  it’s also a delicious dinner. In honour of the hedonism of Wall Street in this mix you’ll find a pinch of saffron (worth more by kilogram than gold) and a fatty gilding of aioli over the top. You can employ whatever white wine or sparkling you like in the broth, but if you’re feeling particularly flush, feel free to use a cup of Krug.

The Way:

SubPrime Fish Stew

Serves 2

NB, it is possible to make this more substantial and slow-carbohydrate by omitting the toast points and tumbling through 1×400 g tin of drained and rinsed chickpeas at the same time as you add the seafood.


1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 fennel, finely diced, tops reserved
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved (include the vine in the stew for extra flavour if they came on one)
400 g marinara fish mix (a mix of mussels, clams, and small pieces of skinless, boneless fish. Calimari, squid and baby octopus are also fine)
pinch of saffron fronds
250 ml/1 cup champagne/prosecco/white wine
Aioli and toast points to serve


1) Add the olive oil to the base of a heavy bottom pan along with the finely sliced fennel and garlic. Sautee over a medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until the fennel is translucent and has begun to soften.

2) Add the sliced cherry tomatoes and continue to cook over a medium heat for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have begun to collapse in upon themselves. Use a spatula to assist them along.

3) Remove the tomato vine from the pan, if it’s there (it helps boost the tomato flavour while cooking).

4) Add the champagne/wine and pinch of saffron to the pot. Turn up the heat and scrape the bottom of the pan to try and claim any flavour that’s clinging to the base. Turn up the heat and bring the contents of the pan to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium.

5) Add the marinara mix and clamp on a lid. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the mussels and clams have opened and the fish is cooked through.

6) Top the fish and broth with aioli, the reserved fennel fronds and toast points.


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