Saturday, July 7, 2018

Seafood Stew

This Seafood Stew is inspired by the fisherman's stew known as cioppino. Every time I cook anything I try to improve on it, this time it is no different. I have made this type of stew a number of times over the years. Each time I tweak it by adding something different whether it is in the broth, the variety of seafood or both. The contents of this stew mainly depend on what is available in my kitchen, what is fresh at my local market's seafood counter and what my local fishermen are pulling up. This time I am adding my Simple Green Crab Stock and a few local catches--lobsters, Jonah crabs, squid and scallops. The stock was previously frozen so I refrigerated overnight to thaw. I use Jonah crab meat that my mother hand-picked and I kept frozen. If you are not as fortunate as I am then you may pick your own crab meat, purchase a container from your grocery or omit it altogether. I think the crab meat adds extra sweetness to the stew.

For this recipe I saute the sausages and seafood with oil, garlic, shallots, chili flakes and thyme and return them to the stew at the end, as my mother had suggested for more flavors and aroma. I saute the items that will take the longest to cook first. If you prefer not to use wine then use 1 1/2 cups of stock. If you drink white wine and not red then use that. Generally I avoid undrinkable wine or cooking wine. It is unnecessary to peel and deseed the tomatoes, the peel is a good source for fibers in your diet. If you prefer more heat add more chili peppers. I find that the lobster body (head) has a fair amount of meat and sometimes tasty roe so don't discard it without picking through it. When we were younger my parents purchased these because they were more affordable. They would eat the bodies and let us kids eat the meaty tails. 

This stew serves about 2-3 people but do add more seafood to serve more people. My little brother, his wife and 2 kids stopped in for a short visit and by adding an additional lobster meat and 2 more sausages I was able to feed his entire family with steamed rice. His children both younger than 10 are some of my worst food critics ever! His daughter rates this stew a surprising 10 with 10 being the best and 0 as the worst. His son gives it an 8. Both of them had seconds which speaks volumes! My brother comments, "the seafood is very tender", which is a good reason not to overcook the seafood.

seafood stew
Seafood Stew

Ingredients:

5 plum (Roma) tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeds removed, diced
About 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cup Simple Green Crab Stock
2-3 Tbsp oil
5 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 large shallot, minced
1-2 tsp dried chili flakes
About 6 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 sausages (use your favorite type), cut into bite size
About 10 oz swordfish (use any type of firm fish), skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubed, washed, dabbed with paper towel to dry
1 cooked lobster (about 1 1/2 lbs) meat, cut into bite size
8 shrimp, shells removed, tails intact, deveined, washed, dabbed with paper towel to dry
8 sea scallops, tough catch muscles on the side removed, washed, dabbed with paper towel to dry
About 8 oz squid (use bodies and tentacles--cut bodies either into rings and/or scored and cut into bite size)
About 4 oz of crab meat, shells and cartilage picked out and discarded
1/2 cup red wine (use any good drinking wine)
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp fish sauce (nước mắm)
A large pinch of sugar

Method:

Peel the tomatoes by making a little cross with a sharp knife on the non-stem sides and drop them in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove from the water when you see a small split on the side and peel off the skin, discard the skin. Cut in half, core and remove the seeds, discard the core and seeds. Dice all of the tomatoes. In a blender puree half of them with the parsley and a little broth, set aside.

Gently boil the lobster in a little water for about 8-10 minutes, covered. Watch the stove so it will not boil over. Turn off heat after the lobster is just cooked. Once the lobster is cooled to handle remove the head (or lobster body) from the tail and reserve any liquid to put in the stew. Remove and discard the intestines and cut the meat into bite size and split the body in half and reserve for garnish if interested.

In a large pan or pot saute garlic, shallot, chilies, and thyme until the onion is soft. Add sausages and swordfish, saute about 2 minutes. Add shrimp, scallops, and squid and saute about a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pour the pureed contents, remaining broth, wine and the rest of diced tomatoes into the pan or pot. Let is gently simmer for about 15 minutes until the wine has cooked off and the broth has reduced a little. Add the fried sausages, swordfish to the pan or pot. Cook until the seafood and sausages are cooked through. For the last 5 minutes add the rest of the seafood, season with fish sauce and sugar.

Serve hot with fresh ground pepper and crusty bread if interested.

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