Fish Stew with White Wine

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

French Regional Cooking

By Anne Willan

Published 1981

  • About

Pochouse or pauchouse - both spellings are common - fish stew has its origin in the variety of fish native to Burgundy’s many rivers. The pochouse made in the 16th century by an innkeeper at Chalon-sur-Saône included ‘salmon, pike, trout, perch, eel in fine condition’, all still standard ingredients. Traditionally two of the fish should be rich like salmon and eel, and two should be white fish such as pike, trout, perch, carp and catfish.


2 kg mixed freshwater fish lb
1 L fish stock* pt
2 Tbsp marc or cognac
bouquet garni
salt and pepper
125 g lean bacon, cut in lardons (optional) 4 oz
60 g butter 2 oz
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
300 ml dry white wine (preferably burgundy) oz
45 g

30 g

butter, kneaded with



1 oz

125 ml double cream or crème fraîche* fl oz
a few drops of lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped parsley
8-10 triangular croûtes*, fried in oil and butter, then rubbed with garlic


Discard the fins and scale and clean the fish, leaving the skin on all but the eel. Cut eel into 5 cm/2 in slices and other fish into 2 cm/¾ in pieces. Use the heads and tails to make the fish stock. Wash the fish pieces and pat dry. Put them in a large bowl with the marc, bouquet garni, salt and pepper and leave to marinate for 30 minutes-1 hour.

If the bacon is salty, blanch* it. Fry the bacon in a tablespoon of the butter until lightly browned; drain on paper towels.

Heat the remaining butter in a large pot, add the onion and garlic and cook gently until soft but not brown. Add the wine, fish stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, add the fish and its marinade, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the fish just flake easily. Remove the pieces of fish, cover and keep them warm in a little of the liquid; discard the bouquet garni. If necessary, boil the cooking liquid until reduced to about 500 ml. Whisk enough of the kneaded butter*, a piece at a time, into the boiling liquid until the sauce thickens to the consistency of thin cream. Stir in the cream, add the bacon and fish and taste the sauce for seasoning; leave the pochouse in a warm place for 5 minutes for flavours to blend. Add a few drops of lemon juice and the parsley and taste again.

Serve the pochouse in deep plates and pass the croûtes separately.