06 January 2014

Seafood Stew with Fennel and Saffron

One of the coolest things about cooking is that you can take ingredients that you think might work together, add them up, and create something new and exciting. The more you experiment, the more you learn about different flavors and textures that work together really well.

One such combination that is pretty classic is that of seafood and saffron - the French bouillabaisse, for example, uses a broth flavored with tomatoes and saffron combined with what is classically considered "unsellable" fish (rockfish, angler fish) and various shellfish such as mussels, clams, and whatever else the fishermen in Marseilles could find.

A while back, I decided to try to make my own seafood stew. It uses slightly more common and easier-to-find fish, it's not as soupy as a classic bouillabaisse, and it has potatoes in it, but the flavors are most certainly there. It doesn't hurt that this is a very easy recipe to put together and can be done in half an hour or less! The seafood stock below is great, but you can easily use store bought stock as well. I like the Kitchen Basics brand.

I like to serve this with either fresh bread (with maybe some salted butter or even a slice of good cheese) or toasted bread that you rub a garlic clove over just after taking it out of the oven.

Seafood Stew with Fennel and Saffron

1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 bulb fennel
3/4 lb small potatoes (new potatoes work well, as do fingerling potatoes)
1 qt seafood stock (recipe below)
1/2 lb firm white fish such as cod or tilapia
1/2 lb salmon filet
1/2 lb shrimps
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp dry vermouth
1 tbsp Pastis (optional - made with aniseed which has a very similar taste to fennel and will intensify that flavor in the dish)
1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
0.2 g (0.007 oz) saffron
olive oil
black pepper

Start by peeling and dicing the onion. Cut the stems off the fennel bulb and slice into very thin strips. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, and half a teaspoon of salt and cook until the onion is translucent. While the onion and fennel are cooking, mince the garlic. Add to the pot together with the saffron and let cook another minute. Slice the potatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices and add to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, for about two minutes. Add the wine, vermouth, and Pastis (if using) and let cook for about three minutes.

Add the seafood stock and crushed tomatoes and let cook until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. In the meantime, slice the fish into small strips. Peel and devein the shrimps. Once the potatoes are soft, take the pot off the heat and add the seafood. Cover with a lid and let stand for about three minutes or until the fish is cooked through and the shrimps are pink. Add salt and black pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Seafood Stock

4 cups shrimp shells and heads (or crab shells, or lobster shells, or any combination)
1/2 cup white wine
1 yellow onion
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 sprigs of thyme (fresh)
2 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp kosher salt
2 quarts filtered water

Turn your oven to 400 degrees F. Roughly chop the onion, carrot, and celery. Place the vegetables and seafood shells in a large roasting pan and cook for 10 minutes. Place the roasted ingredients together with the wine, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt in a large stock pot and cover with the water (you may need to use more or less water than listed above, just use enough to cover all the other ingredients). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, but ensure you never let the stock boil. Do not stir the stock at any point. If you do, there's a risk it will turn cloudy, and you want it to be as clear as possible.

Skim off any fat or foam that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon. Let simmer for about 90 minutes, then strain through a sieve, preferably covered with cheese cloth to catch even the smallest pieces. Let cool and either use right away for the stew or store. You can keep the stock in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.

No comments:

Post a Comment