We like to try and cook something new or complicated (or both) together on Valentine’s Day instead of presents and yadayada I don’t know what. Not that we do it every year — some years we don’t feel like it, some years we can’t think of something we want to cook. Actually the second is probably v. related to the first, but whatevs. This year, Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday of a three-day weekend, and I dunno, it seemed like a sign: we should definitely try to cook something! And I dunno if the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies always does it, and I just never noticed, but this year, they put out a menu and recipes for the inaugural luncheon. Well, you can guess what happened: we decided to make the seafood stew. We love seafood, we love soup, and I have no idea where to find pheasant.
I actually think we messed it up a bit, and the whole thing took us like five hours, not counting the grocery shopping, but we are not expert chefs, knife wielders, etcetc by any means. Oh and a lot of the time was just waiting around for things to reduce, or cool down (during which we played games, of course). And we made changes, little bits here and there. Despite all of that, it was delicious!
Seafood Stew (or actually, this is our version, so more like Noob Seafood Stew. And it is what I would imagine a seafood chowder to taste like, so I don’t really know why this isn’t a seafood chowder.)
most amounts are sort of random
- 1 Dungeness crab
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, heads removed (but reserve the heads)
- 10 sea scallops (approximately 3/4 lb?)
- 1 lb fish (we used turbot because it was on sale, but turbot is terrible for soup, just falls apart. I would recommend trying the black cod they used or maybe red snapper or some other firmer fish.)
- 3 lbs clams (we got 8 littleneck clams, so this is an estimate. Also, completely random.)
- random herbs: a few stalks of fresh basil, a few sprinklings of dried parsley, dried thyme, and a couple of dried bay leaves (optional, obviously! We happen to have this stuff, so we used it.)
- 2 carrots, diced
- 6 stalks leek, diced
- 6 stalks celery, diced
- 1/2 lb brown mushrooms, diced
- 2 small potatoes, diced
- salt, to taste
- white and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 pt. heavy cream
- 2 cups dry vermouth
- 1 pkg. Dufour puff pastry (I think puff pastry is optional.)
- 1 egg
- Bring 1 gallon (less is maybe ok, but we wanted to be close to covering the crab) of water to boil in a large pot. Add in a little bit of salt (remember a lot of the seafood is saltwater so they’ll be naturally salty), black or white pepper, herbs, and 1 cup of dry vermouth. Poach the crab (I think poaching involves lightly not-quite-boiling. :p) for like 15 minutes or so, then remove the crab and set aside. Boil the shrimp heads in the same water (this is optional, I just wanted more flavors because crab is pretty strong, I think — but no worries, the herbs and aromatic veggies will take care of everything), then remove and throw away the shrimp heads. Poach the shrimp (~5 minutes?), fish (~5 minutes?), and scallops (not sure, maybe ~10 minutes?). Poach or boil the clams until they open fully. Remove all the seafood, reserve the water, and bring back to a boil.
- Cook all the vegetables until tender. Remove vegetables, continue boiling until only about half of liquid is left (this is completely random — the original recipe called for a quart but we didn’t want to wait any more and anyway we were worried there wouldn’t be enough soup for the amount of stuff we had, and I have no idea what a quart would look like in our pot).
- Bring the stock (it’s stock now, right?) back to a boil if it isn’t already. Add in 1 more cup of vermouth, salt (to taste), pepper (both black and white pepper, because we like pepper), and nutmeg. Reduce the stock by half — the desired consistency is supposed to coat the back of a wooden spoon, but I just boiled it down to about half and stopped, even though it wasn’t particularly thick. I suppose we could’ve added some flour (or even better, roux, which is like flour cooked in butter) to thicken it up, but we decided we didn’t care. Set aside to cool.
- Defrost the puff pastry according to the package instructions (refrigerator).
- Supposedly, cut seafood into bite size pieces. Actually, we didn’t. Although we did crack the crab, but we didn’t remove all of the shell cos that seemed like too much work.
- Pre-heat oven at 400 degrees.
- Fold seafood and vegetables into cool sauce, being careful not to mix too much as this will break up the seafood. Scoop mixture into terrines or oven proof baking dish of your choice.
- Cover bowls with puff pastry rounds, brush them with egg wash (1 egg, 1 tsp. water) and bake them until golden brown, about 10 minutes (actually more — make sure the puff pastry is puffy and golden), allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. You can cook this 2-3 hours ahead of time and keep warm at 150 F degrees. I think the puff pastry is completely optional.