Seafood Stew

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After a feast of roast suckling pig one night last week, I swore to eat light for a while, simply because afterwards I felt heavy and full in a stodgy, ready-to-hibernate-for-months kind of way. What do I then go and order a couple days later, but roast pork belly. So I finally made good on my promise to myself to eat more seafood, and I’m sure glad I did. This stew contains fish (whichever you prefer, or which looks best at the market), mussels and calamari in a thick flavoursome tomato base. I cook the seafood separately before adding it to the tomato sauce, to ensure that everything is cooked properly. The tomato base can be cooked in advance, making it even quicker to throw everything together.

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Seafood Stew

Serves 3-4

Tomato Base
  • 1 Tbsp butter + 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions or 1 1/2 large onions, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 150ml tomato passata or tomato puree
  • 800g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 red capsicum, roasted and peeled, finely chopped
  • 150ml chicken or fish stock (optional)
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • Mussel cooking liquid
  • 1 fish fillet (I used deep sea bream, but you can use any fish you like), around 300g, cut into chunks
  • To serve: 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  1. Cook the onions in butter and olive oil over low-medium heat until completely softened and caramelised. Do not let it brown as it may become bitter.
  2. Add the other ingredients except the fish and parsley for serving. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. (I start the tomato base off and then attend to prepping the other seafood ingredients.)
  3. Add the fish and calamari (cooked as per below) and turn heat to a low simmer. Cook until fish is done, around 5-8 minutes (time will depend on the type and size of your fish).
  4. Add mussels (cooked as per below).
  5. Sprinkle with parsley and freshly ground black pepper. Salt to taste (note that the mussel cooking liquid will have added some salt).
Calamari
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 small/med calamari
  • 45ml white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • dash of salt

Cut under the eyes to separate the tentacles from the inedibles. Discard the cartilage (looks like a piece of clear plastic). Wash out the insides under running water. Peel off the skin (the pigmented thin skin) and discard. Slice into rings. Saute in butter and add the remaining ingredients (adding the garlic towards the end to avoid burning), cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until done. Set aside.

Mussels
  • 1 dozen green-lipped or black mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 45ml white wine

In a large pan, heat the oil and add garlic, mussels and white wine. Cover and cook until mussels are open and the meat is cooked. Remove the meat from the shells. Reserve the cooking liquid, which is to be added to the tomato base.

Variation

Add 1 cup of chopped fennel bulb. For the fish component, use 1 deboned spanish mackerel cutlet, cut into bite-sized pieces.

by Lorinda Seto

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