Anything Seafood Stew

A good seafood stew is made of the freshest fish and shellfish available. It does not need to be laboured over for hours and delicately presented, but better cooked with little fuss letting the flavours do all the work. It does help if you start with a really good fish stock. A good fish stock only takes 20 minutes to make, use the fish bones from the fish purchased or ask your fishmonger for some bones (he might charge you a small price for this). Vary the seafood mixture according to what is best available and of course your own taste, add the quicker cooking seafood to the stew last.

Anything Seafood Stew

Portions: 6 Portions

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Seafood

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme, finely chopped
  • 6 crayfish or you may use raw prawns (peeled) or raw lobster tail sliced into 6
  • 750g boneless fish fillets, monkfish, cod, swordfish, snapper, gurnard, mackerel etc. cut into pieces around 3cm across and 4-5cm long (skin left on when suitable eg. gurnard),
  • 12-18 mussels(discard any mussels that remain open after giving them a sharp tap, scrubbed and beards removed (do not remove the beards until ready to cook as this kills them)
  • 1 medium squid (300-400g), cleaned, sliced into rings and tentacles separated
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Base Stock

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 x 400g canned chopped plum tomatoes
  • 500ml fish stock
  • 500ml dry white wine
  • a good pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 star anise

To Serve

  • Slices of baguette or bread toasted with a little olive oil and garlic
  • 1 tbsp parsley finely chopped

Method

  1. Base Stock: Place the olive oil in a large saucepan over a moderate high heat. Add the tomatoes to the hot oil and cook them for 5 minutes stirring regularly with a wooden spoon so that the base doesn't burn. Stir in the fish stock, white wine, saffron and star anise. Bring the mixture to a strong simmer then reduce the heat to a strong simmer then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Leave the base stock to simmer for 20 minutes so that reduces down to a rich base. Remove the stock from the heat and allow it to cool slightly, remove the star anise and set the stock aside until ready to use.
  2. Seafood Stew: Sweat the onions in the olive oil until they are soft and transparent in a large deep pan, saucepan or casserole pan over a moderate-high heat. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan and continue to cool for a further minute. Add the fish to the pan with a third of the base stock and cook them on both sides for 1 minute. Add the crayfish or substitute, squid and mussels to the pan with the remaining base stock and the paprika. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the seafood stew over a moderate heat for 5-8 minutes until the mussels are all open, the crayfish cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and season the stew salt and pepper. Serve at once.
  3. To Serve: Serve the seafood stew at the table or distribute it among 6 large bowls. Sprinkle over the parsley and accompany it with toasted slices of baguette or bread.
  • Vary the ingredients of the stew to your own taste and whatever seafood is at its best.
  • Fish Stock: Place fish bones in a saucepan with leek (whites only), garlic cloves, a bay leaf, fennel (optional), a couple of star anise and celery (if making stock for a dark sauce a sliced carrot and a couple of button mushrooms can also be used). Cover the stock ingredients with water and place the pan over a high heat. Bring the stock to a strong simmer then reduce the heat to slow simmer. Skim off any scum that may come to the top. Allow the stock to cook for 20 minutes then remove it from the heat and strain it through a fine sieve. Allow the stock to cool and store it in a sealed container for up to a day in the fridge or freeze it (its good frozen in an ice cube container for handy portions).