Saffron fish stew for one

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Please don't be like me and ignore this recipe for years simply because the word 'stew' doesn't sound appealing!

It is delicious and incredibly simple and and a really easy way of tackling the sometimes daunting task of cooking fish.

This meal is so good for you, yet simple enough to add to your rotation of weekly meals.

For me this was a 'freezer meal' as I used barley I had pre-cooked and frozen into single serve portions which made it even faster to cook. (If you haven't already, read here for my  'plea / sermon / rant' on the benefits of batch cooking and freezing 'fillers' such as rice, mashed potato, barley, quinoa, lentils, pasta and cauliflower rice. It makes pulling together fantastic meals like this incredibly quick and easy with virtually no cleaning up)

Tuna with turmeric, broccoli & quinoa

If you don't have pre-cooked barley or rice and can't be bothered cooking any - an option is to leave it out altogether and turn this into a broth vs a stew. The crushed butter beans (one of my new favourite ingredients) will give it sufficient bulk.

I also had some roasted caramelised onion from a batch of vegetables I'd roasted. This adds a little of depth to the recipe, but it works just as well sauteeing half a small brown onion or a leek.


The most important part of this recipe is to turn the heat to a very low simmer when you put in the fish. It will literally take 5 minutes to cook. If you want to add some spice, or up the 'vegetable quota' see the notes at the end of the recipe.

I used wine, but did not use stock because I didn't have any. However fish or chicken stock would definitely add flavour and you could add half a cup of stock instead of water.

I didn't have any coriander or parsley, but 2 tablespoons of either or both would add great flavour and colour.


Love to hear what you think of this recipe. Leave a comment below or tag #cookingforone and #dinnerdesperado on Instagram.


Number of serves: 1

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 30 mins if cooking barley; 20 mins if have pre-cooked barely or making a broth


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion or half of a larger onion, very finely sliced
  • Pinch of saffron strands soaked in 1/4 cup of hot water
  • 1/2 lemon - rind juiced
  • Butter beans - 1/2 cup drained, rinsed and roughly smashed.
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine. (Substitute fish stock or chicken stock if you don't want to use wine)
  • 1/2 440 gram tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of cooked barley, rice or quinoa (more if your hungry!)
  • 120 grams white fish such as barramundi chopped into 2cm pieces.  (Add a larger piece, e.g. 200 grams if you are hungry or want a larger meal.)


  • Heat oil in pan and gently saute onions until translucent. Then add ginger and saute for another minute.
  • Add the half cup of wine, bring to a low boil, then simmer for 3 - 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.
  • Add tinned tomatoes, lemon juice, saffron & the water it was soaked in, butter beans and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. (If you are using parsley or coriander add now)
  • Add fish and continue simmering on low heat for 3 minutes.
  • Add spinach and cooked barley (or grain of choice). Turn off heat and put lid on saucepan and leave to warm through for 5 minutes before serving. (If your saucepan doesn't have a lid, put a plate on top. Just be careful removing it, because it will be hot.)


  • If you don't have a mortar and pestle to smash the butter beans, just use a large spoon in a cup to squash them. Note they don't all need to be squashed - did it very roughly and you can see there was a mix of crushed and whole butter beans.
  • If you want more spice or heat, consider adding a pinch of chilli or 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • As usual, there are ample opportunities to make this a more complete meal and add more vegetables. Good options are finely chopped asparagus, zucchini or broccolini. Of course frozen peas are always an option and finely chopped red capsicum would also go well.


Related Links 

These will be added in the future. Leave a comment if you would like to be notified when the links are updated.

  • Fish stew recipe for 4 - 6 in case you want to make a larger batch to cook and freeze
  • Italian and Prawn Soup
  • Recipes to use up leftover ingredients: Butter Beans, Tinned Tomatoes
  • How to batch cook and freeze individual portions of starches and grains such as barley, rice and pasta.