Bourtheto, garlicky fish with leak. A recipe by Diane Kochilas

Bourtheto - Garlicky Fish and Leek Stew

Bourtheto, from the Italian brodetto, for broth or soup, is one of the classic recipes coopted from the Venetian past of Corfu and Ionian islands. You can use any fleshy white fish for this.
15 min
35 min


  • 1 pound / 1/2 kilo fresh cod or other fleshy white fish fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 large leek white and tender green parts washed well and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 scant tsp cayenne pepper or more or less to taste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup/240 ml dry white wine
  • 1 cup/240 ml water


  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet, add the leek and garlic, and sweat over low heat until the leek is very soft, about 20 minutes. Add the paprika and cayenne and stir with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute. Pour in 1/2 cup/120 ml of the wine and the water. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the sauce is thick and dark, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the fish over the leeks in the skillet. Add the remaining 1/2 cup/120 ml wine, cover the skillet, and simmer until the fish is flaky and tender, another 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of the fish. Remove from the heat, let stand for about 5 minutes, and serve.

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