Seafood Stew Recipe
Back in January when we moved from our old house to the new condo, I did what any food lover does and immediately familiarised myself with the new local grocery store and its many yummy offerings. One of the food options that I made a mental note to eventually use was a seafood smorgasbord, a mixture of mussels, calamari rings, prawns, and salmon and whitefish pieces, but at the time I had no idea what I’d do with it other than maybe fry it up. But how boring is that? My prayers were answered though a few weeks ago when Victoria instagrammed this photo of her seafood stew concoction, which was pretty much exactly the type of thing the seafood medley could be used for.
Aside from the excitement of having a reason to buy 1.2 kilos of fresh seafood (mmmm), I was pretty stoked to cook with fennel for the first time. Call me unadventurous, but I have no idea what fennel is good for in the kitchen, despite the fact that I’m usually happy to branch out and use new foods. So, there’s that too.The stew itself takes quite a while to prepare if you consider all of the chopping and simmering and cooking everything to the right level of softness (I’m looking at you potatoes and carrots), but it makes an absolute heap of food that’s perfect for packaging up and taking to work for the week. One pot of this stew made enough for Luke and I to have generous helpings for dinner, as well as four more weekday lunches. Tell me that isn’t bang for your cook-time buck. But time efficiency aside, this stuff is just crazy delicious, and I wish I had the skill that Victoria has to toss everything (including fish stock… which sounds disgusting, but I assure you is not) into a pot and have it coming out tasting like seafood heaven. That girl is skilled, and I promise you, this meal will not disappoint.
One other note, Victoria says that the saffron is not necessarily required, but recommended. I’ve made this twice in the past week, once without saffron (still delicious), and once with imitation saffron. Yes, I am too cheap to buy the real thing – maybe another day. To be honest, it didn’t taste much different with the imitation saffron (perhaps it’s because imitation is really sub-par? Like the fennel, saffron is not my forte), so if you’re not going to bother with the real thing, I say pass on the imitation. It’s not worth it. But as for the rest of the meal, it definitely is worth it. It’s delicious, hearty, and tastes excellent with a side of crusty bread. Oh, and white wine, obviously.
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil1 leek, white + light green part rinsed and finely chopped
- 1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, peeled and diced1 small bulb of fennel, diced (including fronds and leaves)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large shallot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine1 can diced tomatoes1 cup fish or seafood stock (Victoria used 1 quart, so either will work), which is found in with other broths at the grocery store
- 1/4 tsp crushed chilli pepper flakespinch of saffronBouquet garni of 5 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs rosemary, tied together with twine
- 8-10 baby potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1.2 kilos of seafood medley (if your grocery store doesn’t have this, make it up and choose whatever you like!)salt and ground pepper
Optional: lemon wedges and a baguette
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the leek, onion, fennel, garlic, carrots, bell pepper, and shallot. Season well with salt and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables have significantly reduced in volume and are soft. Brown caramelized bits may form on the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the white wine and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits. Cook for 1-2 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate. Add in the diced tomatoes, seafood stock, chilli flakes, saffron (if using), potatoes, and herb bundle. Gently stir and season again with salt and pepper (but not too much, as you can always add more later).
Cover the pot, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are about at the desired softness. If you’re serving the stew another day, you can cool the mixture at this point and store it for later use.
Remove the lid and add the seafood medley and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the seafood is just cooked through and tender. Note if you’re using clams, you’ll want to add those before the rest of the seafood (about 5 minutes).
Serve with lemon wedges and crusty baguette.
Note: This recipe freezes really well even after adding all of the seafood. I froze mine over the weekend (without clams), and thawed it out for lunch twice this week. It was as good as fresh!