Wednesday, September 29, 2010


This is a great dish for a crowd. The name may be fancy, but it’s really just a simple seafood stew. Note, however, that the recipe sinks or swims with the freshness of the ingredients, so I make it only when I’m near the ocean.

(serves eight to ten)

The Fish and Seafood
1 lb white steak fish (such as swordfish and halibut)
1 lb bivalves (such as mussels and small clams)
1 lb shrimp
1 lb squid
1 small lobster (optional)

The Stew Base
3 large leeks, white part only
1 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
½ c olive oil
2 c chicken stock
1 c white wine
1 c water
2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
a large handful of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
several sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme
Tabasco sauce, to taste

The Finish
½ c brandy
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
a small handful of fresh dill, coarsely chopped

1. Prep the fish and shellfish. For the fish, remove any skin and cut the steaks into large chunks. For the bivalves, scrub the shells and debeard the mussels (see tip below). For the shrimp, shell and devein. For the squid, clean and slice the bodies into rings. For the lobster, kill and quarter (see tip below).

2. Rinse the leeks well, slice into thin rings, and rinse again. Peel and coarsely chop the onion and garlic.

3. In a large stockpot over a medium-low flame, heat the oil. Sauté the leeks, onion, and garlic until the leeks and onion have wilted, about 10–15 minutes.

4. Add the chicken stock, wine, water, tomatoes, parsley, rosemary or thyme, and Tabasco. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.

5. Add the fish and seafood, cover, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

6. Uncover. Add the brandy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the dill. Serve with crusty bread.

• It’s important to rinse the leeks after they’re chopped because dirt often gets trapped between the various layers of growth.

• The beard of a mussels is the little bit of algae-like fuzz attached to the concave side of the shell. Commercially raised mussels often don’t have beards, but wild ones do. To remove the beard, simply give it a tug.

• The best way to quarter a live lobster is to get it over with quickly. Start by cutting through the top of its body between its eyes. This kills it instantly. A good description of the process, complete with photos, can be found at  HYPERLINK ""

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