Note: A version of this post was originally published at Palate Press. In that version I used a few different ingredients and paired it with a different wine.
There are many regional variations on seafood stew. It depends on where you are; but if you are near the sea there is some local delicacy similar to the one described below. In Italy it is Cioppino. France has Bouillabaisse and the Spanish have Suquet. Portugal is famous for Caldeirada. And that does not even take into account all of the wonderful Asian varieties out there. This particular stew takes a little inspiration from all of them.
The recipe below can be followed exactly, but where is the fun in that? Use it as a jumping-off point. Adjust the spices and ingredients to make it your own. Or, like me, make it differently every time. I call for one jalapeño below, but feel free to use more, less or some other pepper. In fact, the batch pictured featured a mild Hatch pepper augmented by about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Make sure to serve this with a tasty white wine and lots of crusty bread to soak up the broth. We had a loaf of French bread, and paired it with a 2009 Cornerstone Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.
SEAFOOD MEDLEY STEW
1 piece of Grouper, about 1 pound (or other firm fish)
1 pound small shrimp about 30 count, with shells
1 pound small bay scallops
2 pounds cherrystone clams
1 large onion (diced)
2 Serrano chilies (diced)
4 pieces garlic (minced)
1 cup white wine
2 cups fish stock (chicken stock can be substituted)
2 avocados cut into large cubes
1/2 cup fresh minced parsley (I prefer curly)
3/4 cup fresh minced cilantro
1/4 tablespoon dried rosemary (cut into fine pieces)
1/4 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Shell and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells. Rinse all seafood in cold water, sprinkle with a little salt, and return it to the refrigerator. In a large skillet, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat and add your shrimp shells. Once they get good and fragrant, turn the heat to medium and keep stirring just long enough for the pan to get a little hotter, then deglaze using the wine. Once all the good stuff is off the bottom and the wine is bubbling nicely, remove from heat and strain all of the liquid and discard the shrimp shells, while retaining the liquid for later. Wipe out the pan and return to medium low heat.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan and add pinch of salt to start sweating the onions. Once they start to get just a little translucent on the edges, add the peppers and any seeds you plan to use. Toss in the bay leaf and stir frequently until all vegetables are tender. Turn heat up to medium and add the rest of the paprika and stir continuously for about a minute. Deglaze with the reserved shrimp/wine liquid, and then add the chicken stock along with the thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Simmer and reduce by half.
Once reduced, add the parsley and the zest and juice of one lemon. Increase the heat to bring it to a boil. When liquid begins to boil, add the seafood, cover and reduce the heat to med-low. Cook for about five minutes, then uncover and remove from the heat. Zest and juice the remaining lemon into the pan, stir in the cilantro and the avocado right before serving.