If you’re looking to spoil yourself with an easy yet fabulous weeknight recipe for one, look no further than Anita Lo’s Easy Fish Stew with Mussels, Fennel, and Chili.
Maybe you’ve heard this before or even had the thought yourself: “I really like to cook but when it’s just for one person it seems like a lot of work (and dishes).” There may be some truth to that but my theory— a theory shared by celebrated chef and our recent Table Talk guest, Anita Lo—is that if you love to cook (and eat), nothing should stop you from doing it. Cooking is therapeutic, rewarding, and usually results in healthier eating (not to mention you’ll spare yourself a few dollar bills and the planet a few ounces of Styrofoam on takeout).
Related Reading: The Best Cookbooks for One
Lo, whose former restaurants Rickshaw and Annisa earned about as many accolades as Meryl Streep, is a staunch advocate for cooking for one’s self with the same thoughtfulness and care you might afford a queen or head of state. She would know, after all—Lo was called upon to cook for Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Yinping at the White House in 2015.
SOLO by Anita Lo, $17 on Amazon
A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One.
A few years ago Lo closed her New York eateries following a much-celebrated 17-year run. She quickly added author to her resume with the release of “SOLO: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One” where she argues that cooking for yourself is akin to self-care and always a worthwhile endeavor. The book outlines a few of Lo’s favorite recipes to make your own fabulous self on any night of the week.
Marquette Castings 6-Quart Dutch Oven, $89.95 on Amazon
Think how sexy your seafood stew will look in this cast iron pot.
Anita Lo’s Fish Stew with Mussels, Fennel, and Chili
Cooking for one doesn’t mean you should skimp on glamour. Seafood stew is a most crave-able meal but in many minds seafood equals “special occasion” or at least “expensive,” and so many often shy away. Not so fast, says Lo, and with this fabulous and slightly spicy shellfish stew she backs up the claim with easily had and inexpensive ocean specimens like mussels and porgy or monkfish. Technique-wise the stew requires exactly no formal training and the whole thing can be finished in under 30 minutes.
Fish Stew with Mussels, Fennel, & Chiles
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
- 1/2 small onion (sliced)
- 1 large clove garlic (sliced)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 sprig thyme (or a pinch of dried thyme)
- ½ fennel bulb, sliced into ½-inch thick slices then cut into strips
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped
- 8-ounces clam juice
- 4-ounce firm white fish filet (such as porgy or sea robin)
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/2 pound mussels, cleaned (rinsed and, if necessary, debearded)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
- Several slices toasted crusty bread drizzled with extra- virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fennel frond
- Heat a small or medium-size pot on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Add onions and sweat, stirring occasionally, until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir.
- Add the thyme, fennel, and wine and reduce.
- Add the tomato and cook, stirring until the tomato breaks down.
- Add the clam juice and bring to a boil.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Add the mussels to the pot and bring to a boil again, then add the fish and simmer until almost cooked through (about 1 minute per inch of thickness).
- Season broth to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice if necessary.
- Serve in a large bowl, with the bread on the bottom and garnished with the chopped fennel and a drizzle of olive oil.
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