Seafood Stew in a Fennel-Mint Base

Cut [washed, unpeeled] potatoes into cubes about three quarters of an inch each way. Cut fennel into similarly sized pieces. Wash shellfish; rinse whitefish. Peel about half a bulb of garlic cloves. Chop in Cuisinart with chiles to taste. (I used one [frozen] Red Savina.) Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and puree until more-or-less smooth.

Start water for pasta. Pour garlic/chile/oil mixture into a largish stewpot, and put on high heat. Just before the garlic starts to brown, mix in the tomato juice from both cans. As this is heating up, puree the tomatoes from one can. When the tomato juice comes to a simmer, mix in the pureed tomatoes, and coarsely chop the tomatoes from the other can. Mix this in when the base again comes to a simmer. Salt to taste when it comes back to a simmer, then add the potatoes and the fennel.

Let this continue heating for about a minute past simmer (stirring often), then add the frozen corn and limas. Chop the mint coarsely, and cut the whitefish into 1" squares. When the stew comes back to a simmer, add the clams. Add the mussels after about a minute. Add the mint and the whitefish after about another minute. Stew is done when shellfish opens up and whitefish gets 'flaky'.

Serve over some sort of pasta that will 'carry' a soupy base. I used "orechiette", which I guess means 'little ears' - they look like yarmulkes.

Serves two to four, depending on appetites and bread consumption.

Copyright © 1998, Jon Shemitz - - April 19, 1998