what to eat on your ark: or how to whip up a delicious supper of sea bream with a chickpea and chorizo stew

sea bream with
chickpea and chorizo stew
I am building an ark in my back garden. Given the weather I think it is probably a wise precaution. Not that London is on a flood alert, and I do live on a hill, but I like to be prepared. And if this city does flood, I won't have to worry about getting my ark out through the front door. It's this kind of attention to detail that is important. 

In my mind, I have already prepared a bag with all the necessities in life - a few treasured photographs, my double-edged mezzaluna and the set of kitchen knives my brother gave me for Christmas, There's a large economy bag of onions, a knot of fresh garlic I have retrieved from the garden before they float away, a tin of smoked paprika and a couple of bottles of Haut Medoc, presents from my father, Henry, that I was saving for a special occasion. This could be the right moment. Since my ark will not be wired for sound, I shall just have to sing to keep my spirits up and I am sure a couple of bottles of something deliciously fruity and smoky will also help to keep both me and the ark on an even keel.

By the time of the Deluge, I will have managed to rustle up a camping stove, or even the disposable barbecue that I lent one of the nice girls in the library (long story) and as I sail south to warmer climes, Spain or Portugal by preference, I shall christen my ark with a deliciously warming and sunny meal of sea bream served with a spicy chickpea and chorizo stew. It is all in the planning you understand.

By the way, if you have never had sea bream or gilt-head bream (a fish that was once sacred to the goddess of love, Aphrodite), has a wonderful flavour. It may sound odd, but the flavour is intensely savoury, almost like roast chicken. If fried in a pan, the skin will crisp up beautifully, almost like pork crackling!

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

chickpea and chorizo stew
olive oil
1 x onion, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g chorizo, roughly chopped (skinned if using the semi-dried chorizo)
2 x rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
12-16 x baby plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
300ml vegetable or chicken stock
a splash of red wine
1 x bay leaf
2 x sprigs of fresh thyme
juice of half a lemon or lime
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x sea bream fillets
seasoned flour
olive oil
a few mi cuit tomatoes, to serve
a sprig of fresh thyme, to serve

  1. In a large heavy-based lidded saucepan, gently fry the onions in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they are beginning to soften. (This should take about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the chopped bacon, chorizo and garlic and continue to fry gently. The chorizo should start to exude some of its paprika spice and oil will start to change to a rust colour.
  3. Add the smoked paprika and give the mixture a quick stir to coat in the spice. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and drained chickpeas. Stir to coat and cook for 1 minute before adding the stock and red wine. Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer before adding the bay leaf and fresh thyme. Cook gently for about 20 minutes. You may need to add more stock, although if it looks as if the stew is too liquid, you may need to boil some of this off.
  5. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes before stirring in the fresh lemon or lime juice, and check the seasoning. You may not need much salt depending on how salty the meat is and how salty your stock. If using a hot paprika then again you may not need any additional pepper as it will be spicy enough.
  6. Spread the seasoned flour on a large plate and lightly flour the sea bream fillets, shaking off any excess flour.
  7. In a large frying pan, heat a splash of olive oil together with a generous knob of butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the fish fillets, skin side down. Fry for 2 minutes before turning and cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Serve a mound of chickpea stew, topped with a sea bream fillet. Add a couple of mi cuit tomatoes with more of the sauce and a few fresh thyme leaves.

  • The chickpea and chorizo stew makes a fabulous dish for any tapas party!


GingeyBites said...

This looks really tasty, I'll definitely be trying it out. I love cod/chorizo combo so am sure sea bream will be just as good!

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

I will be awaiting your arrival on the quay of the marina at Vila real de Santo Antonio, waving the Portuguese flag,The guardian under my arm and a polka dot hanky flowing from my blazer pocket.
Pure genius-I am stil laughing and thats before I even got to the recipe which is a triumph.The option of making the stew on its own is a double whammy.I am going to run this by our current guests and see if they would like it for dinner tomorrow,otherwise will definitely be making it for self and the thespian later in the week.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Alex (GingeBites) - you're right about the cod - it was where I got the idea from, but what I had in the freezer was the bream! Actually I found some halibut too (be still my beating heart) but think that might have to wait until I get something like asparagus or samphire to do it justice!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Algarve - I love the picture you have just painted for me (esp. the detail about the Guardian!!!)

I have to say that the chickpea and chorizo stew is one of my favourite combinations and it is just so easy ... one of those things that you can eat with just about anything. Couscous, rice or just big hunks of rustic bread to soak up the juices. And wine of course. Don't forget the wine!

Karen S Booth said...

Can you build me an ark too and then as soon as have loaded the last animal cook me that sea bream as I LOVE fish, as you may know and that looks LUSH! Fabulous and just right for the summer we aren't having!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Karen, I am hoping I might be able to catch me some bream too!

BTW, love what you are doing with fish on your site!!!