Sicilian Fish Stew

This stew is an interpretation of a recipe by America’s Test Kitchen, which I’ve low-carbed. The combination of salty, savory, acidic, and sweet flavors are what make it outstanding.

Sicilian Fish Stew
6 servings // 218 calories, 4 net carbs

2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 large bay leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cups bottled clam juice (homemade fish stock is excellent, if you have it)
2 pounds tuna steaks (about 1-1/2″ thick), trimmed of skin, cut into 1″ cubes
(swordfish is also good)
Optional: add 18 mussels or clams, in the shell
2 tablespoons drained capers
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Swerve sweetener
18 medium pitted Castelvetrano olives, quartered lengthwise (about 1/2 cup)
7 kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add the minced onion, carrot, and celery, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until caramelized, 30 minutes or more.

This trio of vegetables are what is called soffritto in Italian cooking, and are the “holy trinity” of ingredients. Soffritto is a mixture of slowly cooked carrots, onions and celery, used as a base to add flavor to sauces, soups and stews. The slow cooking of these basic ingredients provides a satisfying depth, richness, and umami to a dish.

Stir the garlic into the soffritto and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of a chunky tomato sauce, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the fish stock and raisins and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the fish (and the mussels or clams, if using), capers, and olives, and bring back to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 7 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even cooking. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let stand until the fish is just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasonings. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with pine nuts and mint.

Serve over shirataki noodles* or with low carb cheddar biscuits.


*Shirataki Japanese noodles have zero net carbs and are sold wet, in plastic bags. They smell somewhat “fishy” when opened. To eliminate this, pour into a sieve, rinse well, drain, microwave on high for two minutes. Repeat. This also makes the noodles have a more pasta-like consistency, though they’ll always be a bit squeaky and jiggly.