Abbey’s All Over The Map Fish Stew

There are many different kinds of fish stews. The French have Bouillabaise, the New Englanders and Manhattaners have given us Chowder, San Fransiscans have Cioppino, the list goes on and on… I like all of them but don’t know if I could really pick a favorite. My mom makes an excellent Bouillabaise and I grew up eating great ‘Manhattan’ Clam Chowder at the Neptune bar in Wrightsville Beach but I haven’t really made a whole lot of fish stews at home. Soups and stews are never really a thing that I crave… I mean, they’re good and I can enjoy eating them if you’re telling me that’s my meal but it’s very rare that I go out of my way to eat a bowl of stew.
Yesterday I was poaching the tilapia for my Tilapia Cakes and couldn’t bear to part with the delicious cilantro and onion fish broth I now had in the pot. So without a plan, or particular craving for stew, I started to build a fish stew using all the flavors I really love and what I just happened to have on hand.
I loved the way it turned out and it was incredibly easy to make. If you don’t have your own fish broth or stock, then you can certainly buy some. I ended up with 3 quarts of stock from poaching my fish so I just reduced that down by half, but you can always just use 1-1 1/2 quarts of store-bought broth and it would be an even simpler recipe. I ended up using shrimp because I was using the tilapia for another recipe, but ideally, if you were making your own broth from scratch, you would use the fish you just poached in the stew. (I keep shrimp in my freezer. I buy it whenever it goes on a big sale and stock up. It’s a quick fix for a last minute meal because it can thaw in cold water in a matter of minutes.)
Here’s what I did…
-In a large stock pot, sweat out 1 medium onion, diced, and 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced in some extra virgin olive oil.
-Peel and dice 2 large vine-ripe tomatoes (or use 1 can of plain, diced tomatoes) and add that to the softened veggies. Season liberally with salt, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and 1 TB of sugar.
-Throw in 1 cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp of freshly ground coriander. Stir until fragrant.
-Add 3 quarts of fish stock or broth and 2 TB of tomato paste and crank the heat up to high. (My broth was previously flavored with cilantro so I recommend throwing a handful into the liquid as it’s reducing.)
-Allow the liquid to boil and reduce by about 1/2. This may take 20-30 minutes.
-Add 1 can of coconut milk (I always use the Light Coconut Milk) and a handful of dried coconut flakes and check for seasoning. It should be highly flavored, a little sweet and salty enough.

-Turn the heat off and add 1 lb. of peeled and chopped shrimp (or your seafood of choice). (The heat from the hot liquid itself will gently cook the shrimp in about 2-3 minutes.)
-Serve in big, wide bowls over rice or with a hunk of crusty bread for dipping.

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  • Reply Chef E July 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Hubby comes back tomorrow, so I am making this! I made the stir fry, turned out great, but I am trying to post only 2 each week, so it will be a while- He likes to eat light, since he eats out on his 'military' trips, in the middle of now where desert he says the food sucks, so he looks forward to home- I joke and say its my cooking, I am just the maid and cook, lol!

    Isn't it fun to stumble on dishes we make and realize maybe that is how cuisine basically got its start in an 'all over the place' kind of way, love that title!

  • Reply Tinky July 2, 2010 at 2:26 am

    I think of myself as good at improvisation, but you are remarkable at it! I love the sound of this.

  • Reply Everyday Champagne July 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Chef E-Thanks for trying the stir fry recipe, that's so sweet of you! And Tinky, improvising in the kitchen is pretty much all I do! I don't use recipes-It actually kinda bothers me that I write them! For a long time I just called them 'non-recipes', then that got a little tiring and felt a little pretentious.

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