New England Fish Stew

In 12 Days of Oscar today, we cover The Big Short.  The Big Short starts with eccentric hedge fund manager Michael Burry discovering the instability of the U.S. housing market in 2005 and predicting that in 2007, that market will collapse.  He realizes he can profit on this if he bets against the market.  Trader Jared Vennett hears about this from a banker he does business with and decides to get in on the credit default swap market as well.  Mark Baum joins Vennett in this, and later realizes that the scale of the fraud in the industry will cause the entire U.S. economy to collapse.  The Big Short has been nominated for five Oscars:  Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale as Michael Burry), Best Directing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing.


Throughout the movie, director Adam McKay breaks the fourth wall, and characters and celebrities making cameos address the audience directly.  Margot Robbie drinks champagne in a bubble bath as she explains what sub-prime loans are, and what “shorting” means.  Selena Gomez takes a gamble in Las Vegas to show us what a “synthetic Collateralized Debt Organization” is.  The most humorous cameo is Anthony Bourdain’s.  In a kitchen somewhere, he explains that CDO’s are like fish a chef buys at the market on Friday.  Two days later, it’s too old to be sold to customer as-is, so the chef (not wanting to throw it out and take a loss) puts it into seafood stew.  Now it isn’t old fish, it’s a way to sell three day old halibut.

When we saw this in the theater, I knew that I was absolutely covering this film, and I was absolutely making fish stew.  I used cod for this because fresh halibut isn’t readily available near me right now but any firm white fish would be fine.

fish stew


New England Fish Stew


  • 1/4 lb. thick-sliced bacon, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 lb. small red potatoes, diced
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 C. vegetable broth
  • 3/4 C. heavy cream
  • 1/2 C. dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 lb. cod (or other firm white fish) fillets, cut in 2 inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat for about 8 minutes until crispy and golden.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Put the onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes to the pot and increase the heat to medium-high.

Saute for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are softened and golden.

Stir in 2 Tbsp. of the thyme.

Add the broth, cream, and wine and bring to a gentle simmer.

Stir in the cooked bacon.

Add the fish, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes until the fish is opaque throughout and the vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of thyme.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Williams-Sonoma


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