Corfu Bourdeto


by Camilla Ridley

A wonderfully tasty, spicy fish stew with a real flavour of Corfu’s Venetian past


Enjoying a fabulous lunch with friends at the harbour in Corfu Town in our Ridley London printed floral summer shirt dresses which included this recipe for the incredibly tasty and very easy traditional Bourdeto fish stew

Bourdeto is a traditional spicy fish stew with a real flavour of Corfu’s Venetian past and like many of the tastiest dishes I’ve enjoyed, it's a classic example of authentic peasant cooking. In this case, Bourdeto has been lovingly prepared by Corfiot Fisherman for hundreds of years using the simplest and most abundant local ingredients and a recipe that’s been passed down through generations. Unlike a Ligurian fish stew, the Bourdeto does not use tomatoes and instead derives its vibrant red colour from red pepper powder. Traditionally, the stew is made using cheap deep sea fish including bottom feeders like scorpion fish, which despite their reputation, are actually very tender with a flavour somewhere between red snapper and monkfish. However a mix of more available white fish like bass, monkfish, cod, skate, snapper and octopus can also be used. While you can ask your fish monger to remove bones, the traditional recipe keeps the fish on the bone as it adds flavour to the broth. If you are using scorpion fish, be very, very careful of eating any bones which really are like nails. You can also add potatoes if you like which should be pre-cooked. I’d recommend using a waxy variety like a Charlotte, Jersey Royal or Maris Peer to retain their shape. I’d serve this dish with a simple fresh green salad on the side in summer.


(Serves 4)

12 scorpion fish with skins removed but heads and tails remaining on. Or a mixture of fish including bass, monkfish, cod, skate, snapper or octopus to serve 4 people cut into good size chunks

1 large onion finely chopped

100ml of good quality olive oil

1 large table spoon of sweet red pepper powder

1 teaspoon of chilli powder

The juice of 2-3 lemons


On a medium to low heat, sweat the finely chopped onion in a little olive oil (Greek of course) until it turns a rich golden colour, probably about ten minutes.

Add a table spoon of sweet red pepper powder and a teaspoon of chilli powder.

Turn up the heat and pour in a large glass of water and bring it up to the boil, gently stirring until you get an even colour and all of the ingredients and flavours are combined.

Once almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, add your fish and two more glasses of water so the fish is almost completely covered.

Continue to boil, again reducing the broth until almost all of the liquid has disappeared. At this point, add the lemon juice and continue to cook for a further minute.

Remove your pan from the heat and serve immediately. Kali Oreksi!

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