Seafood is considered by many to be the food of Lent and thus is associated by some with deprivation. To others, eating seafood doesn’t seem like a sacrifice at all.
For discriminating diners, a seafood stew is the elegant entree par excellence. No wonder a seafood stew was the opening act of President Obama’s inauguration luncheon.
There is a big difference between Good Housekeeping’s old-fashioned codfish stew, made by cooking frozen cod with canned potatoes, canned tomatoes and ketchup, and the elaborate presidential seafood stew, with lobster, shrimp and scallops in a vermouth cream sauce, then baked under a crown of buttery puff pastry.
Seafood cooks quickly, and so you can get a seafood stew on the table much faster than one made of meat.
Choose fish that doesn’t easily flake apart, such as monkfish or sea bass. Fish steaks are a good choice, as they are thick and tend to hold together well. However, you can also use thin, delicate-textured fish fillets like salmon, sole and tilapia, as long as you cook them carefully. Add them to the sauce just before serving and cook them for only a few minutes.
Shellfish lend themselves readily to stewing. Shrimp are the easiest to stew; even stirring them vigorously won’t cause them to break up. Scallops and crayfish hold together well, too, but, like shrimp, they overcook easily and should be added to the sauce for the last few minutes of cooking.
Lobster and crab are easiest to handle when cooked separately, remove the shells and add the meat to the sauce. Country-style dishes in most seafood-loving lands call for stewing lobster and crab in their shells in a sauce.
Mussels and clams also hold together well and can be cooked directly in a stew. To avoid the risk of making the sauce sandy, cook these bivalves separately and add them to the sauce with a little of their strained liquid.
Don’t forget rule No. 1 for cooking any seafood: Use it promptly so it is as fresh as possible, whether you have purchased it fresh or whether it was frozen and thawed. If the stew is thinner than planned, serve it in bowls.
Easy halibut curry with ginger root
Salmon steaks can be substituted for the halibut.
Makes 4 servings.
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger rootView Entire Story
By Elaine Donnelly
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