Why does that even exist? (Seafood, Fennel, and Tomato Stew)

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Even the decorative citrus can’t save this bottle of gray liquid

So to make this stew we needed clam juice. This is not the most intuitive thing to find in the grocery store. It’s not going to be next to the HI-C and Welch’s (although the Clamato is next to the V8). So I hunted down the nearest hapless HEB employee and asked where I could find the clam juice.

Y’all, I wish I could show you her face when I said “clam juice”. Trying her best to maintain a professional attitude while every neuron in her brain was screaming “Eeeeugh!”

Clint Eastwood Gif
It was something like this . . .

Clam juice is what adds a certain oceany taste to a dish. I wouldn’t recommend it over ice. Tonight it was combined with come citrus, tomato, and fennel to make a lovely seafood stew.

There’s an inclination to think that seafood stew is a fancy-dancy meal for special occasions. Shellfish especially is regarded as too pricey for a weeknight dinner. But the meal comes together pretty quickly and if you keep an eye on what’s at the seafood counter, it’s not that pricey. (The fennel might get you if it’s out of season though).

On to the recipe! This stew comes, again, from Food & Wine: Weeknight Dinners, courtesy of chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts.

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Seafood, Tomato, and Fennel Stew

Serves a party of 4 generously

Hardware:

  • Heavy nonstick pot. I used my dutch oven
  • Mixing bowl

Mats:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bulb of fennel – halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lb of fingerling potatoes, thinly sliced
  • One 24 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes. Crush them in your hand like the spleens of your enemies.
  • 16 ounces (2 bottles) of CLAM JUICE
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
  • 2 strips of orange zest
  • 1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (it’s not blood in that “vein” gaiz)
  • 1/2 lb mussles, scrubbed
  • 1/2 lb of cod cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley

Walkthrough:

  1. In the pot heat up the olive oil over moderately high heat until it is shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and fennel. Add a pinch of salt and stir occasionally until browned. This will take about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the wine. Bring to a boil and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the potatoes, tomatoes and their juice, clam juice, orange juice, and orange zest. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and cod and cook for about 3 minutes until they are opaque. (The cod will flake, so don’t make the initial chunks too small or the fish will just disappear into the stew.) Then add the mussels for another 3 minutes of cook time.
  5. Remove the stew from the heat. Pick out the orange zest and any mussels that haven’t opened up. Season with salt.
  6. After ladeling the stew into bowls, season with salt and a generous sprinkle of parsley.

Serving Suggestion: Nice crusty French baguette. You’ll want something to soak up all that beautiful broth.

ProTip: A dutch oven is a great multi tasker in the kitchen. It can even be used to peel and crush garlic. Simply cut the root ends of the cloves off and bring the dutch oven down on them authoritatively. Peel away the papery skin from your crushed garlic and you’re ready to rock.

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