The Fish Doctor’s stew

The Fish Doctor’s stew

Black pepper, lemon peel and mint stew

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

We ate several times at a wonderful seafood restaurant in Istanbul called Doga Balık. The chef–owner is nicknamed ‘The Fish Doctor’ for his knowledge of and skill in cooking seafood – as well as for his habit of wearing green surgeon’s scrubs! This is my interpretation of one of his wonderful dishes.

The Fish Doctor’s stew included turbot and sea bass, which, sadly, are not readily available in Australia. Instead, choose a selection of baby snapper, John Dory, whiting or black bream. Cooking the fish on the bone adds incomparably to the flavour of the finished dish.

Serve with a plain rice pilav or boiled potatoes and a green salad.


Quantity Ingredient
2 x 400-500g whole baby snapper, cleaned
2 x 300g whole whiting, cleaned
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, very finely diced
2 garlic cloves, very finely diced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried mint
3 bay leaves
long piece peel from 1 lemon
few sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
250ml * chicken stock [rid:9962]
baby chives, to serve


  1. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature.
  2. To prepare each snapper, cut away the head just below the gills. Snip off the side fins and cut the fish in half crosswise through the bone. To prepare each whiting, cut away the head, then cut the body into three pieces crosswise through the bone. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil gently in a heavy-based casserole dish. Add the onion and garlic and sweat very gently for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the oregano, mint and bay leaves, peel and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, then cook over a low heat for another 5 minutes. Lie the pieces of fish on top of the onion mixture, then sprinkle on the thyme and red pepper flakes, add the stock and transfer to the very hot oven. Cook for 8 minutes, which should be long enough to colour the fish and just cook it through. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle with snipped baby chives and take to the table straight away.
Middle Eastern
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