Nicolaus Balla pays homage to the freshwater fish soups of eastern Europe using American ingredients like sturgeon, collards and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. He adds a good dose of heat with New Mexican Hatch green chile. “It’s the best American chile I’ve tasted,” he says.
Slideshow:More Light Stews
Recipe from Food & Wine America's Greatest New Cooks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 serrano chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
2 tablespoons Hatch green chile powder (see Note)
1/2 pound small collard greens, stems discarded and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 quart fish stock or bottled clam juice
1 pound Green Zebra tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 ounces hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, separated into bite-size pieces
2 pounds skinless sturgeon or halibut fillet, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges and crusty bread, for serving
How to Make It
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, fennel, leek, garlic and chiles and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 15 minutes.
Add the anchovy paste and chile powder to the casserole and cook, stirring, until the anchovy dissolves, about 3 minutes. Stir in the collard greens and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the fish stock and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Stir in the tomatoes and mushrooms and simmer over moderately low heat until the collards are just tender and the tomatoes start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the fish and simmer until just cooked through, about 7 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the stew into bowls and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
New Mexican Hatch green chile powder has a bright, floral, fruity flavor. It is available at gourmet markets and hatchnmgreenchile.com.