This creamy German fish stew contains white fish, celery, onions, chopped pickles, horseradish and herbs. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

“Maybe you have a recipe like this,” wrote Bobbie Lehigh from Eastport, “but when I made it earlier this week, I thought: I should send this to Sandy.”

Well, I didn’t have a recipe like the “Fish Stew from Germany” Bobbie found in a booklet fifteen years ago entitled “The World’s Best Fish and Seafood.” Plus she sent along all kinds of advice on how to prepare it.

The recipe recommends ocean perch. “But I’ve used haddock, cod, etc.,” Bobbie wrote. It also specifies frozen fish, but Bobbie starts with thawed fish and says “it can be made with fish scraps so it can be inexpensive,” which is helpful.

Bobbie cuts back the amount of salt: “Recipe says 1 tablespoon, but that is too much, try 1 teaspoon for starters.” She also substitutes evaporated milk for 1 cup of the 5 cups of milk called for, a great Maine practice which makes for a creamier fish chowder or stew.

If you make this stew over the summer, you’ll want to use fresh dill. But this time of year Bobbie uses dried dill and I did, too. I love the horseradish and dill pickle in the stew, something a little different from my usual with fish dishes. I added in a little more of each, so be sure to sample the stew and adjust the flavors to suit your taste. Off hand, I’d say that if you don’t like onions, don’t bother to make this. The recipe calls for quite a few. It is an important part of the dish.

The stew goes together quickly — under 45 minutes — and tastes lovely right away. Yet Bobbie let this stew rest, as she said, “to mellow out.” I did the same and concluded that it is definitely better the next day.

The whole time I ate my mug full, I thought about how it reminded me of my favorite tuna salad with its onions, celery, dill and pickles. Only that’s more for summer on the front porch, and this stew is perfect for these chilly days sitting in the kitchen next to my wood burning cookstove. I’m so glad Bobbie wrote to me.

Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

German Fish Stew

6-8 servings

2 tablespoons butter

4 medium onions, sliced

1 rib of celery, chopped

2 pounds white fish (cod, haddock, etc.), cut into chunks

5 cups milk (part evaporated, optional)

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped dill pickle

1 tablespoon grated prepared horseradish

Dried or fresh dill, chopped

Dried or fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1. Put the butter, onions, celery and fish into a large heavy pan, and add the milk.

2. Over a medium high temperature, bring just to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

3. Add the sour cream, dill pickle, horseradish, dill, parsley and salt, and stir to combine well.

4. Reheat briefly and serve, or let season overnight and reheat gently the next day.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...