Monday, December 23, 2013

Seafood Stew (no potatoes)

Last week, over at my Red or Green? blog, I told the story of how my family serves Mexican food every Christmas eve. This has been going on for thirty years. Before that we always had Italian food. We are spending this Christmas at our home in Taos, New Mexico and...since I eat New Mexican food a couple times a week here...I am bringing back the Italian food tradition for just this year.

Italians traditionally eat seafood on Christmas eve. The Feast of the Seven Fishes, (festa dei sette pesci), as it is called is usually a huge celebration with multi-courses  featuring seafood. This is a tradition symbolizing the breaking of the fast where Roman Catholics used to "give up" meat prior to celebrations. This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. (wikipedia)

This stew contains 3 types of seafood; shrimp, cod and halibut or flounder. Feel free to add or substitute your favorite fish. Lobster, mussels, clams and any type firm white fish would work well. And, because I am not a fan of potatoes in a red sauce based fish stew, I used fennel and kale instead. I really like the result.

The rest of my Christmas eve menu will include mussels and clams in garlic broth, seafood salad (this will equal my "seven" types of fish) and a vegetarian pasta dish for the non-seafood eaters. I am really looking forward to this meal. Oh, FYI, this stew is delicious year round as a first course or main dish. Serve with the toasted bread (bruschetta) & a green salad and dinner is ready. Enjoy!

Seafood Stew (no potatoes)
(serves 4)

8 oz fresh shrimp (peeled & deveined)
8 oz fresh cod fillets
8 oz fresh skinless halibut or flounder fillets
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb (use the white bulb, the green stalks and the feathery ferny tops), chopped. Reserve 1 tbsp chopped ferny tops
4 garlic cloves, peeled. Chop 3 cloves, leave 1 whole
2 cups fish stock, homemade or excellent quality purchased
1 cup dry white wine
26.46 oz box Italian chopped plum tomatoes (I like the Pomi brand)
1/2 bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tbsp sweet Spanish paprika
1/2-1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you want)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
sourdough or whole wheat baguette, sliced

Place the fish and shrimp on a rimmed dish, like a pie plate. Season with 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt.

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and the onion and fennel. Saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook an additional minute. Add fish stock, wine, tomatoes, kale, paprika, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Raise heat to medium. Add seafood to stockpot, stir and cook for 5-6 minutes or until shrimp turns pink and fish is just cooked through. Taste broth and adjust seasonings if desired.

Place bread on baking sheet and place under broiler. Cook on both sides. Remove from oven and immediately rub whole peeled garlic clove over each slice. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Serve stew in large soup/stew bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and top with a pinch of the chopped fennel tops. Pass the bread to dip in the flavorful broth.
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Merry Christmas everyone!
napa farmhouse 1885

I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.

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