A variety of fish can be simmered in this fragrant sauce: dried cod, whiting, fresh cod, halibut, belly fish. Since the traditional vin cuit is hard to prepare, here we have replaced it with a sweet red vermouth or a rich red wine.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the onions and cook slowly for 20 minutes until soft. Add the vermouth or wine and the water. Stir and boil for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, oregano or savory, bay leaves, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. It should be quite thick.
Remove from the heat. Discard the bay leaves and pass the mixture through a Mouli food mill. Check the seasonings (the sauce should be pungent) and correct them if necessary. Add the olives, capers, parsley, and gherkins and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
© 1990 Mireille Johnston estate. All rights reserved.