This Easy North Carolina Fish Stew Recipe is complete with eggs and tasty fish chunks, is specific to eastern North Carolina, and is incredibly tasty.
You will often see this old-style fish stew recipe prepared in a variety of ways. This is quite normal to see with older recipes. as it was common to adjust the ingredient list based on the meat and vegetables available at the time.
This hardy stew served as the centerpiece for family gatherings. It was a complete meal in a bowl, and sliced bread typically accompanied it.
The main source of protein for the dish was rockfish (or striped bass) or flounder. The fish that was most plentiful along North Carolina’s Atlantic shore at the time was the one used. If you don’t have access to either of these, any white flaky fish will suffice
Speaking of protein, this fish stew with potatoes and eggs is packed with it. Large chunks of white flaky fish along with plenty of eggs are featured here. The eggs were used as an affordable protein filler to ensure each family member and guest received a hardy portion.
The old-style fish stew recipe is amazingly simple, yet incredibly flavorful and delicious.
Main ingredients needed
Easy Eastern North Carolina Fish Stew
- 1 pound sliced country bacon
- 16-ounce can of tomato paste
- 3 pounds potatoes, diced
- 2 pounds yellow onions, cut in quarters
- 6 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
- 3 pounds fish filets – Rockfish / Striped Bass, Atlantic Croakers, Red Drum, and Flounder are excellent options ( Old-style recipe calls for bones and skin intact, but boneless filets work as well)
- 2½ tbsp kosher salt
- 1½ tsp chile flakes
- 3 bay leaves
- One dozen eggs
- Slice bacon into small squares. Using a 12-quart pot, brown the bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pot. Leave bacon essence (fat) in the pot. Stir in tomato paste into the bacon fat, making sure not to let it burn.
- Remove pot from heat and begin to add remaining fish stew ingredients. Start with the potatoes, onions, and garlic. Allow these ingredients to brown for 10 minutes, and then add fish. Add salt and bay leaves
- Add enough water to just reach the top of the fish stew ingredients. Cover the pot with a lid and slowly bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it beings to boil, reduce the heat and let it cook for 30 minutes.
- With the stew at a good simmer, add eggs one at a time over the top. (Slightly crack each egg before placing it in the pot.) Cook the eggs for 5 minutes until they are soft-boiled or lightly set.
- Once the eggs have cooked the proper amount of time, ladle portions of stew into each serving bowl. Each portion should include fish, potatoes, onions, and an egg. Generously sprinkle crispy bacon pieces in each serving bowl.
Firm, white fish like cod, haddock, or halibut work well in this stew as they hold their shape during cooking. You could also use a mix of different fish for varied textures and flavors.
Absolutely! Clams, mussels, shrimp, or even crab could be wonderful additions to this stew. Just adjust cooking times accordingly as some seafood cooks faster than others.
This North Carolina fish stew can be served with crusty bread for dipping, or over a bed of rice to make it a more substantial meal. A side salad would also complement the hearty stew.
Yes, but add the fish just before serving to prevent it from becoming overcooked. The flavors of the stew base will deepen with time.
It’s generally best to consume fish stews fresh. However, if you must freeze it, be aware that the texture of the fish might change slightly upon reheating.
If you prefer a different root vegetable, you can use sweet potatoes, turnips, or parsnips. For a lower-carb version, you could use cauliflower or just increase the amount of other vegetables.
Absolutely! Add more chili flakes, or perhaps a dash of your favorite hot sauce for an extra kick.
Claudia Faucher is a fitness trainer and lifestyle blogger, who recently started to pursue her other passions… Southern cooking and creating recipes.