Sunday, December 22, 2013

Seafood Stew

I can't believe I haven't already posted this recipe for seafood stew.  Its not a major hit in my house, but is well received by those that do like shrimp and seafood.  Its loosely based on a recipe from Barefoot Contessa that I've adapted to fit the seafood I can get fresh here on the west coast.

You do need 3-4 lbs of fresh or frozen/thawed seafood. What I used is what I found fresh in my local grocs, you can substitute what you can find fresh in your stores.  You can also use precooked items just add them the last minute before serving to warm them up without overcooking.  Add your seafood in order of size, largest pieces first as they will take the longest to cook, to the smallest which just need a brief bath in the hot broth.

Heres a cheap swap...langostines have a taste and texture similar to lobster.  Lobster here on the West Coast is a bit of a luxury item and can be pricey especially off season.  These little gems are a good swap out and still get the flavor of lobster. Having it for guests and really want to impress?  Break down and get a lobster tail slightly more than a pound and cube the meat so you end up with about a pound of lobster meat.

 Shrimp stock is stupid easy to make and I usually have some on hand.  Store bought seafood stock would work fine in a pinch, but seriously, try making your own stock the flavor is much better AND you get to control the salt levels.

I'm usually not a fan of specialty items, but I do use two in this stew that without them it just lacks the big punch of flavor they bring to the table.  Neither you meed much of so buy as small a quantity as you can find.

First up is Pernod.  I search high and low before I got smart and hit my local liquor store up to special order it.  Pernod is a wonderful anise/fennel liquor that really brings the fennel flavor up in this dish. Its fresh and herbaceous with a nice punch of flavor.  Its very similar in flavor to absinthe, so that could be substituted.

Second on the specialty ingredient list is saffron.  Its billed as the worlds most expensive spice, I know a few threads at the groc will cost an appendage.  I found my supply, reasonable at about 1/3 the cost compared to my local groc, at Cost Plus World Markets.  You only need a few threads, but it brings the intense color and a rich spiciness, subtle heat even, that can be duplicated with something else.  A little goes a very long way, and too much, well it taks on a metallic taste so use it sparingly.

Seafood Stew
  • 1 lb cod -cut into generous 1 inch cubes
  • 1 lb scallops
  • 1 lb shrimp - pealed and deviened
  • 1 lb langostinos
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onoin - thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c diced red bell pepper
  • fronds from the fennel bulb
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2t black pepper
  • 1 c diced tomatoes
  • 4 T Pernod
  • pinch, 6-7 threads, saffron
  • 1 quart shrimp stock
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

In large stock pot over medium heat add olive oil and heat to shimmering.  Thinly slice onion and fennel with mandolin.  Add to pot along with the diced red bell pepper.  Cook 5-8 minutes until union is translucent but not browning.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute while stirring constantly.

Add 2 T Pernod and stir in to deglaze the pan.  Add can of diced tomatoes with juices and shrimp stock.  Add saffron.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and simmer 10 minutes.

Add cubed cod pieces, cook 3 minutes
Add prepared shrimp pieces, cook 2 minutes
Add langostino, cook 2 minutes.
Add scallops, cook 2 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Pernod and parsley.  Serve hot in bowls garnished with a fennel frond and with a thick cut crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Cook the vegetables over medium heat until onion is translucent, but not browned.
Add your largest pieces of seafood first and time your additions so they are fully cooked by the time the smallest pieces are cooked.
Stirring in the parsley and final bit of Pernod at the end off the heat preserves their fresh crisp flavor.

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