I miss two things about living in Brooklyn – those little fruit and vegetable stores on every other block, and Avenue U Fish Market that had an amazing fish and seafood selection. Back in our NYC days we were spoiled with the fresh seafood variety available to us everyday on our way home from the train station. It seems like another lifetime. More and more details from those days are vanishing from my memory. Plus, I never visit NYC anymore, and what eyes do not see mind tends to forget quicker.
Apparently Val remembers more of those days. It was he who reminded me about the seafood stew I used to cook back in Brooklyn. He asked for it last week and I couldn’t even recall how I made it. I went online in search of something relatively similar. It seems like there are three most popular methods for cooking a seafood stew – Italian, French and Spanish – but in their essence they are very similar. French use a very specific set of spices. And from what I remember I did use fennel seeds and saffron in my stew. So, I guess French bouillabaisse was the one I used to make.
Do not let the amount of the ingredients intimidate you. It is really REALLY simple to make. The most annoying part would be cleaning the seafood. But once you get that done, the cooking part is simple and shouldn’t take you more than 40 minutes. But do not even think of omitting saffron, as it makes the world of difference in the soup base.You can use whatever seafood and fish you like or have available. I remember using squid in addition to everything listed below. And I use this fish stock.
Author: Urban Kitchen Affair
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 bulb of fennel, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 bay leafs
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Orange zest of 1 orange
- ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups of chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 4 cups fish stock (may be substituted for clam juice)
- ¼ orange juice
- 1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 lb salmon filet, cut into chunks
- 1 lb fish fillet of your choice, cut into chunks (bass would be ideal. I had to use catfish)
- 12 scallops (if very large, use maybe 8)
- 12 clams, cleaned
- 12 mussels, cleaned (I used 1 cup of mussels meat)
- Salt, pepper, to taste
- In a large dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed stock pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and fennel and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add star anise, fennel seeds, saffron, bay leafs, thyme, orange zest, red pepper flakes and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes with their juices and wine, and cook until reduced by half.
- Pour in fish stock and orange juice, bring to boil, and cook for about 10-12 minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium-low, add fish and seafood. Once the stew is simmering, cover with lid and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and adjust the seasoning. Be mindful of the fact that the seafood is naturally salty when you bite into it. So, to keep proper salt balance, it is good to have the soup base a touch under-salted.
- Before serving, make sure to remove any unopened mussels and clams.
- Serve with crusty bread.