Eric Akis: Seafood stew for two with a B.C. catch

Eric Akis

A cool December night is the perfect time to make a hearty, aromatic, spirit-lifting stew. It could feature meat, but if local seafood is your thing, head your boat in that direction.

That’s where I dropped my anchor when preparing today’s recipe, which features B.C. cod and cooked, hand-peeled Pacific shrimp. Both are sold at seafood stores and some supermarkets and work very well in my Mediterranean-style seafood stew.

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Because fish cooks quickly, and the shrimp are already cooked, you need to make the base for the stew before adding them to the pot.

The process begins by sautéing a mix of vegetables in olive oil before adding flavourings, such as garlic, lemon zest, anchovy, oregano and red pepper flakes, and a bit of flour, which helps thicken the stew. Liquid ingredients, including white wine and stock, are then poured in, and cubes of potato and fresh tomatoes are added. Everything is then simmered until the potatoes are tender.

At that point, mix cubed cod fillet and shrimp into the stew, along with some chopped parsley, which adds a nice hint of green. A few minutes later, the cod will be cooked, the shrimp will be heated through and a nice seafood stew that yields two generous servings will be ready to enjoy.

Serve the stew with slices of foccacia or baguette from your favourite bakery, or with some buttery, toasted garlic bread you make yourself.

B.C. Cod and Shrimp Stew for Two

This tomatoey, Mediterranean-style stew is rich with two types of B.C. seafood, potatoes and other vegetables, and flavourings such as anchovy, garlic, lemon zest and oregano.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: About 25 minutes

Makes: Two generous servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 medium shallot)

1/3 cup diced celery (see Note 1)

1/3 cup diced carrot

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp dried oregano

• pinch red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 anchovy fillets, minced, or 2 tsp anchovy paste

1/3 cup white wine (see Eric’s options)

2 cups fish or chicken stock or broth

1 1/3 cups peeled, white potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 medium potatoes)

1 medium, ripe, on-the-vine tomato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

325 to 350 grams ling cod or Pacific cod, patted dry and cut 1 1/2-inch cubes, any bones removed

100 grams hand-peeled shrimp (see Note 2)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (divided)

Pour oil into a medium pot (mine was eight inches wide) set over medium, medium-high heat. Add the shallot, celery and carrot and cook and stir four to five minutes. Mix in the garlic, zest, tomato paste, oregano, pepper flakes, flour and anchovy and cook and stir one to two minutes more.

Pour in the wine and when mixture is thick, slowly mix in the stock (or broth). Add the potatoes and tomatoes and bring mixture to a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain that simmer. Simmer this base for the stew 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Mix the cod, shrimp and three quarters of the parsley into the stew, return to a simmer and cook four to five minutes, just until fish is cooked. Sprinkle top of stew with remaining parsley and serve.

Note 1: Diced in this recipe means to cut into 1/4-inch cubes.

Note 2: Pacific shrimp are sold fully cooked and most often labelled hand-peeled shrimp or machine-peeled shrimp. Hand-peeled, the type used in this recipe, means that after cooking, the company selling the shrimp peels off the shells by hand. Doing that results in a product with a firmer texture, brighter pink colour and fuller flavour.

Eric’s options: If you don’t wish to use wine, simply replace it with more stock or broth.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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