Thursday, January 19, 2012
Dreaming of the South of France and Seafood Stew
Lately I’ve been daydreaming about the South of France and my thoughts turned to the fragrant bouillabaisse that we shared with friends at a bistro in the Vieux-Port area of Marseille several years ago. Unfortunately I happen to be far from the steps of the Mediterranean Sea at the moment, so I’m unlikely to find the variety of fish that is abundant there. But I’m not letting that stop me from making a fish stew.
I normally use a mild flavored white fish, such as halibut in this stew. However, we eyed a bag of assorted octopus, cuttlefish and squid in the frozen seafood section of our local market the other day and decided to use it instead. It was a success and we will definitely use it again when we can get our hands on it. However, don’t let not finding that seafood assortment stop you from making it. It’s a terrific stew no matter what kind of mild fish you find in your market. Maybe you'll even dream of Marseille.
Adapted from Pierre Franey’s Low Calorie Gourmet – serves 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
½ cup chopped fennel (excluding the leaves)
½ cup peeled and chopped carrot
½ cup chopped leek, cleaned, white part only
1 dried hot red pepper, crushed
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chopped canned whole tomatoes
2 cups water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bag of frozen mixed seafood containing octopus, cuttlefish and squid – or - if unavailable, 1 pound boneless white-fleshed, nonoily fish such as halibut, striped bass or red fish, cut into ¾” cubes
1 tablespoon Pernod, Ricard, or any other anise flavored liqueur (optional, but will impart the flavor of the South of France and Marseille)
½ pound small scallops
½ pound shrimp, preferably wild caught, peeled and deveined
18 small to medium sized clams
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat the olive oil in a kettle and add the onion, garlic, fennel, carrot, and leek. Cook the vegetables until they wilt, taking care not to burn the garlic.
Add the crushed hot pepper, bay leaf, thyme, wine, tomatoes, water, and Pernod if using.
Bring the mixture to a boil and add the salt and pepper. Cover the kettle tightly and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the frozen seafood mixture (or the fish) along with the Pernod if using and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the scallops, shrimp, mussels, and clams. Cook for another minute or two until the mussels and clams have opened, discarding any that do not open. Take special care not to overcook the seafood.
Sprinkle the stew with the parsley and serve immediately with crusty toast fingers or a French baquette to soak up the briny juices of the stew.
Here’s to dreaming of seafood from the Mediterranean Sea and the South of France. Bon Appetit!
I will be linking this seafood stew to Miz Helen’s Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.