Green Fish Stew

Michelle McKenzie

"Dandelion & Quince"

"In this hearty soup, pan-fried fish is finished in a thick broth of tomatillos and green aromatics. I like mine on the spicy side (leaning toward two to three chiles), but you can easily adjust the heat according to your preferences. Prior to cooking, the puréed tomatillo mixture can be prepared up to three days in advance." — Michelle McKenzie



  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup parsley leaves
  • 6 green onions, white and green parts sliced
  • 1 or 2 serrano chiles, sliced
  • 2 cups Kombu Stock 
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm white fish fillets (such as rock cod or halibut)
  • 1 lemon

To Serve

  • Crème fraîche
  • Cilantro leaves and/or blossoms
  • Parsley leaves
  • Thinly sliced white onion


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the tomatillos until soft but still whole, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain; place the tomatillos in a blender with the cilantro and parsley leaves, green onions, serrano chiles, kombu stock, fish sauce, olive oil, and fine sea salt. Purée until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly reduced.

Meanwhile, pat the fish dry with paper towels and cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces; season both sides with sea salt. Place a large sauté pan over moderately high heat; add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the fish in one layer and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until each piece moves easily with a slight prod. If you fuss over the fish too much, it will fall apart—resist the urge to move, peek, or flip more than once. Flip the fish (a fish spatula is handy) and cook for 2 minutes more, or until the fish is opaque throughout.

Meanwhile, taste your sauce. Adjust the seasoning as needed: lemon will add brightness, and salt will add interest. If you’d like more heat, slice another chile and serve it on the table.

Divide the fish among the serving bowls, and ladle the sauce on top. Garnish each with a spoonful of crème fraîche and a scattering herbs and sliced onions.

From Dandelion & Quince by Michelle McKenzie © 2016 by Michelle McKenzie. Photographs © 2016 by Rick Poon. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.


4 to 6 servings