I often look in the fridge, maybe get some guidance from a trusted source (in this case Pierre Franey’s 60 Minute Gourmet), then wing it. Over time you learn what goes with what. That makes it easier to look in the fridge and figure out something delicious with what you have on hand. I’m a big fan of simple cooking, so it’s not like I’m trying to create something new or unique. I just trying to get dinner on the table. You can create a delicious fish stew with simple seasoning. If you have some or all of the optional ingredients, it will be even better.
4 Tablespoons oil (olive oil is great but use what you have), divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 scallions, white part minced and green part sliced, optional
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups tomato puree
1 14-16 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
6.5 oz. can of chopped clams
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt (start w/less if using clam juice or salted stock)
2 cups clam juice, fish stock, or shrimp stock
a pinch of saffron, optional
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine, optional
12 golf-ball sized new potatoes or 1 lb. of potatoes, cut into chunks
12 25-30 shrimp, peeled or not
3/4 pound fish fillet (cod, snapper, sea bass)
chopped fresh parsley, and/or basil
Heat 3 Tablespoons oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, white part of scallions, celery, and garlic. Cook gently until onion is translucent. Add fennel seeds, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, bay leaves, tomato puree, and diced tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes. Drain juice from the can of clams into pot. Add clam juice/stock. Bring to a boil. Taste for salt. Add more if the stock is bland. If you don’t add enough at this point, your potatoes will taste bland. Add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are nearly done, about 15 minutes. Add chopped clams, shrimp, and fish. Cook for about 10 minutes until shrimp turn pink. Add chopped herbs and green part of scallions. Check for salt.
To serve, drizzle on a little more olive oil. If you used vegetable oil, this would be a good place to use good olive oil to enhance your stew but you can skip it if you want. Some crusty toasted bread and a simple green salad would be great accompaniments.