Spanish chickpea and cod stew is often made with bacalao, or salt cod. This version uses lightly marinated cod, which packs plenty of flavor and protein without salt. The chickpeas bring additional protein, while... the subtle smoked flavor from hot paprika and a hint of lemon elevate this stew to perfection.
Pat fish dry and rub with ground cumin. Place in a large bowl with ½ of the lemon juice. Mix well and marinate for 30 minutes.
Dissolve the saffron threads in ¼ cup boiling water, set aside
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds let them sizzle for a few minutes until they become fragrant, then add the garlic and cook until it starts to color. Add the onions, peppers, and bay leaves. Sauté until they start to soften. Sprinkle with salt, cover and lower the heat to medium-low. Sweat for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft, and the onions are a pale gold.
Turn up the heat to medium-high. Sprinkle the vegetables with smoked paprika and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and diluted saffron. Cook until the tomatoes have lost most of their liquid. Add the chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Lay the fish on top of the vegetables. Cover. Bring to a boil then cook at a simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining lemon juice. Cook 2 minutes more, turn off the heat, and leave fish to steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
When buying cod filet, ask the fishmonger to cut your buy from the thicker head end of the fillet so that the fish is of even thickness and cooks evenly. You can ask him to cut it into 6 pieces for you too.
Saffron has to be hand-harvested and as a result, both the threads and powder are very expensive. It gives a wonderful flavor to fish stews like this one, so if you can spring for it, do so, knowing that a little goes a long way.