Have you ever had fish stew?
We did, on Valentine's day.
Yep, it was perfect.
Tomatoes, wine, fish, clams, SAFFRON, bread. Ahhhhhhh.
This is easy, people. The sauce simmers for about an hour so it isn't ideal for a hasty weeknight, but the steps are very simple and the ingredients are interchangeable based on what you have in your fridge, as per the usual.
You'll love it!
Here's what you'll need, for 4 portions with lots of broth:
- 8 oz firm white fish (cod, halibut, or sea bass)
- 15-20 clams or mussels
- 10-15 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 bulb fennel (no? two stalks of celery will be just fine)
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 red chili pepper or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 can or 1 1/2 cups seafood or clam stock
- 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- parmesan rind (optional)
- fresh parsley
- bread, for serving
Look how ghetto I am, I'm only using the top of fennel because I had used the bulb for something else already.
Don't be like me.
Heat some olive oil in a pan, and chop the fennel, slice the onion and pepper, and chop the garlic - I kind of like big pieces for this!
You know the deal with garlic - smash it with your knife, take off the skins, then chop it all up into a big pile. YUM.
Beautiful. Now your pan should be nice and hot! Leave it over medium heat, and add all the veggies with a sprinkle of salt.
Lovely. Stir these together, and let them soften for 5 minutes or so - they won't be fully cooked, and don't let the garlic burn!
Once the veggies have begun to cook, squirt in the tomato paste and let the veggies cook for one minute more.
Then, sound the alarm, and add the wine!
Delicious. Let this come to a bubble, then add the fish stock and tomatoes - I don't reduce the wine very much at all because the sauce will simmer for so long later.
I am having a very time remembering this meal. It was GREAT. Make it.
So, this smells great and wonderful and good. You might want to turn up the heat so the liquid can come to a boil.
While that's happening, crush the saffron threads in your hand and drop them in.
Then, cut the rind off your parmesan, and drop that in too.
The rind gives the soup a salty flavor - not cheesy, but a little extra oomph that will make your skirt fly up, promise. Skip it if you don't have any fresh parm on hand, no one will know.
Cheese in tomatoes - what's not to like?
Now, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, and let the sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes - let it go an hour if you have it! Check it every once in awhile, and if the sauce reduces too much add water or stock 1/2 cup at a time to keep the liquids a-plenty.
While the broth is simmering, you can take whatever steps you need to to be sure your seafood is all ready to go - we add it soon! The clams or mussels should be live or frozen. If they're live, discard any that are open before you cook them - projectile diarrhea and vomiting can really wreck a fancy dinner like this.
I lie my fish on paper towels to dry out, too.
LOOK how gorgeous this cod is. Firm, buttery, and affordable, unlike sea bass. It's perfect!
Once the tomato broth has simmered for ever and ever and your house smells good, turn the heat up just a little bit and add the clams or mussels, then put the lid back on.
The idea here is that we cook the seafood according to what needs the most time - clams, fish, then shrimp, in my case.
Let the clams steam for about 10 minutes, then peek in the pot - if the shells have opened we're onto the fish! They might take 15 minutes, be patient.
Cut the fish into big chunks and drop it into the broth.
Yum, fish. See how the stock is bubbling? We want that for these final few moments of cooking.
Let the fish cook with the clams for about 2 minutes - it'll start to become opaque. Then, drop in the shrimp.
Yes. We're almost done! Stir this around for a bit; the shrimp will start to cook almost immediately. While that's happening, fish out the parmesan rind, and chop up lots of parsley.
I like the parsley in pretty big pieces, but you can chop it finely if you'd like.
Dump some parsley in the pot, and stir everything around for one minute more.
Perfect! Try not to eat it straight out of the pot - it's tempting!
Put lots of seafood and veggies into each bowl...
Then add all the broth your little heart can handle.
Obviously, add some more parsley to this madness, just because you can.
I am obsessed with this and want to make it every day. You should try it! You can use whatever seafood you have on hand, or plan it when you see things you like go on sale - shellfish can get expensive, so keep an eye out for good deals!
For serious, people, make this ASAP. Your valentines will love you for it.