A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to Portugal with friends. We traveled all over the country, and often for lunch, we found small, family-run restaurants where the husband fished, and the wife made a stew out of whatever was fresh-caught that day. These were some of our favorite meals—super fresh seafood prepared simply in a flavorful broth. Seafood stew made at home has since become one of our favorite suppers. Served with a green salad, a loaf of rustic bread, and lots of wine, this stew makes for a homey dinner with friends. —drbabs
Test Kitchen Notes
I enjoyed this dish more than I expected. The dish was filling yet let, thanks to its bright, warm flavors. The heat of the garlic and red pepper flakes, matched with the sharp lemon juice, made the dish feel that much more comforting. The combination of flavors were well balanced and it was easy to put together. I halved this and it was a generous amount for two people; and thought that olives were a great salty counterpoint to the mild fish (we used sole)—and it was great with crusty bread. I'd recommend stirring in the lemon juice, zest, and spices just before adding the fish so as not to break it up too much. —Annie "Smalls"
medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
olive oil, plus more to serve
large, sweet onion, halved pole to pole and sliced
large bulb fennel, sliced thin, fronds reserved
Fresh ground black pepper
large carrots, diced
large cloves garlic, sliced thin
Yukon gold potatoes, cut into approximately 1-inch pieces
plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (use canned in the winter and spring)
cups white wine (that you like to drink)
fresh white fish filets (I usually use two types of fish—whatever is freshest)
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, preferably Meyer
Red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper as desired (plus more if desired)
fennel seed, crushed with mortar and pestle or ground in spice grinder (or more to taste)
1 to 2
tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives (optional)
Place the shrimp shells in a large saucepan and cover with about 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered while you prepare the rest of the stew.
In a separate, large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil till shimmering. Add the onions and fennel with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, and continue to cook for a few more minutes till they begin to soften. Stir in garlic, and cook another minute or 2 till you can smell the garlic; it shouldn't brown.
Add potatoes, tomatoes, and wine. Strain the previously made shrimp stock into the Dutch oven. If vegetables are not completely covered, you can add more wine or water until they're all just covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered till potatoes can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes. (If you are making this ahead, you can stop here and refrigerate the stew. Bring it back to boil and then reduce the heat to simmer before adding the seafood.)
Stir in the shrimp (Cut them in half if they are large.) and fish filets, being careful not to break them into too small of pieces. Stir in lemon juice and zest, red pepper flakes, and crushed fennel seed. Let fish and shrimp poach in broth for 5 to 10 minutes till just cooked through. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
To serve, ladle the stew into a bowl. Drizzle a little good olive oil on the top, and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and Kalamata olives (if desired). Add additional Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes if you like more heat.