A little bit of this and a little bit of that...that's all it takes to make a flavourful and delicious stew for your next dinner. The only effort this fragrant seafood stew requires is a trip to the nearest fish market or seafood counter.
When cooking with seafood it not only makes a huge difference to buy it as fresh as possible but also to cook it as fast as possible. In this particular stew I used fresh king prawns (a favourite here in Australia), black mussels and squid. In addition to the salty and briny flavours of the sea, I added some classic aromatic accompaniments like plenty of white wine, chopped garlic, fresh and tinned tomatoes, a touch of chilli and handfuls of herbs such as bay, fresh lemon thyme, rosemary and basil.
The key to this dish is to let things stew - but not the seafood! Sounds funny, I know. First cook everything except for the seafood together on a slow heat, stir the pot a little and then, when all the tastes have come together you add the star. Fresh prawns, mussels and squid cook in just a few minutes and they don't need any more handling than that. Follow the recipe and you'll have perfectly cooked seafood every time! So lovely and delicious...
1 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
2 sprigs of lemon thyme
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tin of tomatoes (use a good brand if you can!)
1 cup white wine
1 red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
1 tsp sugar
sea salt and cracked black pepper
water (about 1/2-1 cup)
6 large prawns (like king prawns or similar), cleaned
8-10 large mussels, scrubbed
1 squid (cleaned, skinned and sliced into pieces)
handful basil leaves
fresh lemons, quartered
Place a large pot on medium heat and once hot add oil, shallots and stir for a few minutes. Then add garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Sweat for about 5-10 minutes and then add tomatoes and white wine. While simmering add chopped chilli, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. At this point add some water because it will evaporate while cooking. Let stew for about 20-30 minutes on a low heat and add a bit more water if too dry. At this point increase heat to medium and place seafood in - prawns first - let cook 1-2 minutes with lid on, then stir in mussels and squid, place lid on pot. Wait just a few minutes until mussels are open. Turn off the heat and serve right away in bowls with fresh basil leaves and a quick drizzle of olive oil to mellow things out- serve with fresh bread and lemon.
*credit: stoneware bowls in grey (with prawns) and green (with basil) by Golden Brown Fox Ceramics.