- 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
- 4 tbsp light olive oil
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 2 large yellow bell peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 heaped tsp dried coriander
- 600g cherry tomatoes (yellow and red if possible)
- 4 gurnard, scaled and gutted
- 40ml white vermouth
- 10 strands of saffron
- 1 lemon
- A handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Good bread
Cut the peppers in half and remove their core and woody green ends. Slice into 5-8mm thick long strips. Put to one side and prepare the onions and garlic.
Find a heavy bottomed saucepan that will just about fit the fish in on one layer. Put this (without the fish) on a medium-hot hob. Add 2 tbsp light olive oil, the diced onions and a pinch of salt. Soften for 3-4 mins, before adding the cumin, oregano and minced garlic. Cook for 1 min more, then add the remaining 2 tbsp light olive oil and the strips of pepper. Stir so the pepper is well glossed, cooking for 5 mins more before turning the heat down to low, and placing a lid on the saucepan.
Cook gently for 40 mins until soft and intensely sweet. Stir occasionally and leave the lid ajar for the last 10 mins.
Once the peperonata is ready, turn the heat up and after 30 seconds pour in the vermouth. Let this cook away for 10 secs or so, then add two thirds of the cherry tomatoes and enough water to cover the vegetables by 3-4cm. Bring to a gentle simmer, then place the gurnard among the tomatoes and broth. Cook with the lid on for 8-12 mins, until the flesh of the fish starts to pull away from the bone (it won’t take long, so try not to overcook it).
Carefully remove the fish from the pot. Turn the heat up so that it begins to boil and reduce, add the remaining tomatoes and cook vigorously for 5 mins more. Meanwhile, use your hands to push the fillets of fish off the bone, taking care when removing the sharp fins.
Season the broth with salt, white pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Serve by ladling the peperonata and broth into bowls, breaking the gurnard into flakes over the top, drizzling with loads of good olive oil and parsley, and with fresh crusty bread alongside.
Image: Ed Smith