Recipe: Eastern North Carolina Fish Stew in the Slow Cooker

by | May 17, 2018

From CAROLINA CATCH: COOKING NORTH CAROLINA FISH AND SHELLFISH FROM MOUNTAINS TO COAST. Text © 2018 by Debbie Moose. Food photography copyright © 2018 by Juli Leonard. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

In 96 recipes, Debbie Moose’s new cookbook, Carolina Catch: Cooking North Carolina Fish and Shellfish from Mountains to Coast, shows how much our state has to offer when it comes to fresh, delicious, local seafood.

Moose’s book shows how to prepare North Carolina fish and shellfish – freshwater, saltwater, wild-caught and farmed. She suggests trying a new variety and supporting local fisheries.

Seafood is a thriving industry in North Carolina with an abundant variety of fresh seafood. To learn more about local seafood, buying guides and recipes, visit N.C. Catch.

Seasonal choices for the spring in North Carolina include soft-shelled blue crab, bluefish, clams, grouper, kingfish, mackerel, mahi-mahi, oysters, sea trout, snapper, striped bass, tilefish and tuna.

Below is a recipe from Moose’s book. She suggest monkfish fillets, or use drum, mahi, dogfish or sheepshead as an alternative.

Fish stew that includes poached eggs is an eastern North Carolina tradition. Many cooks prepare it from old recipe cards or simply from memory. After preparing it the usual way, by simmering on the stove, I thought it might work well in a slow cooker—and it did, with a few adjustments. Add the fish near the end of the cooking time to prevent overcooking. I poached the eggs separately, but if your slow cooker has a simmer function, you could try poaching the eggs in the broth, as is traditional. Click here for a quick lesson in how to poach an egg.

  • 1 1⁄2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch slices
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds monkfish fillets, cut into 6 pieces (alternative fish to use are drum, mahi, dogfish, sheepshead)
  • 6 eggs

Lightly spray the bottom of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Layer half of the potatoes, then half of the onions, half of the garlic, half of the salt, and half of the red pepper. Repeat the layers with the remaining vegetables and seasonings.

Whisk the tomato paste into 2 cups of warm water until it dissolves, then pour over the layers. Add enough water to cover the layers, about 8 cups. Cover and cook on High for 3 hours.

Fry the bacon until crispy. Drain and crumble. Reserve the bacon grease.

After 3 hours, pour 1 tablespoon of warm bacon grease into the stew, then nestle the fish gently into the liquid until completely covered. Cover and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the fish is flaky and cooked through. Thicker fillets will take more time than thinner fillets.

Poach the eggs in a pot of simmering water.

To serve, ladle the stew into bowls, including a piece of fish per serving, then add a poached egg. Top with crumbled bacon.


Makes 6 servings