Shortly after I moved out here, my mom tried to make me promise to eat fish at least once a week – wild-caught, low-mercury fish. When a friend invited me to make a Costco run with her, I jumped at the chance. As I wandered the frozen food aisles, I came across one packed with frozen fish. I slowed to a stop, mesmerized by bulk bags promising reasonably-priced protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and…a lot of other healthy things.
Before I knew it, I was in the checkout line, hugging a giant bag of fish. Barramundi, aka “the sustainable seabass,” to be exact. I think my line of reasoning went something like, “It’s cheaper than wild-caught…The bag says, “sustainable and responsibly farmed,” so that must mean it’s not hurting the environment or full of contaminants and other unnatural things like regular farmed…The bag says, “omega-3 rich”…I like seabass…The frozen sockeye at my cousins’ was pretty good…This must be good.”
Yes, I am easily swayed by product packaging, and my logic skills leave much to be desired.
Turns out the fish wasn’t bad at all, especially for frozen fish. But 24 oz. of one kind of frozen fish filet is sort of a lot for one person to consume, and after the third filet, I kind of started to dread eating the rest. Apparently, I also have short-term memory and do not learn from past experiences.*
Fortunately, this soup saved me from a bleak Barramundi fish future. In fact, I think it’s one of my favorite things I’ve made since moving out here. It’s flavorful (tastes kind of like the white wine broth mussels are often served in), easy, and fast. On reheating the leftovers, I added a tiny bit of cayenne, and liked the subtle heat, so I’ve added it as an optional ingredient. The original recipe called for mussels in addition to the fish and shrimp, but I didn’t have them. While they would have added visual oomph and great flavor, the soup was plenty flavorful and sweet without them.
MEDITERRANEAN FISH SOUP
Adapted from Swanson’s
1 Tbsp olive oil
pat of butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 small cloves garlic
~1/4 c. white wine
~2 c. chicken broth, low sodium
1/2 lb. fish, cut into ~1-inch pieces
1/4 lb. fresh or thawed shrimp, peeled and deveined
Fresh basil leaves, shredded
optional: dash of cayenne
1. In saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium heat.
2. Optional: Add cayenne. Heat a little in oil and butter.
3. Add onion and garlic. Cook until tender.
4. Add white wine. Cook until most of liquid evaporates/mixture slightly thickens, ~1 minute.
5. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to boil.
6. Reduce heat to low. Add fish and shrimp.
7. Cook until fish flakes easily and shrimp is cooked through. Don’t overcook!
8. Serve garnished with basil.
*Once when I was little, I spotted a bulk box of handi-snacks during a family outing to Sam’s Club. While my sister was repulsed by them and wanted nothing to do with them, I was convinced they were the snack for me. My parents tried to reason with me, saying that the entire box was too much for one person, but I remained unswayed. To teach me a lesson, presumably, my mom agreed under the condition that I had to finish them before they would purchase any other snacks. My parents stayed true to their word, and I never again asked for handi-snacks or bulk snacks.