Exhaling the richness of fresh seafood — With real fresh clams and an abundance of flavors this soup is less conventional but the best thing for a lighter dinner. This recipe is inspired by Zarzuela de mariscos, an excellent seafood stew from the Catalan coast of northeast Spain. It consist in a sauce made with almonds, garlic, parsley and tomato with a hint of brandy. Zarzuela meaning “operetta”, it perfectly describes the swinging versatility of this soup. The greater the variety of seafood you add to this dish, the better its flavor will be!
Preparation time: 40 minutes – Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients list for the fresh clam, fish & squid chowder
Serves 8 :
- 3 1/2 cups (75cl) of fish stock
- 24 clams
- 1 3/4 lbs (800g) mussels
- 3 lbs (1.4kg) of monkfish fillet (or cod)
- A bit of all-purpose flour
- 1 lb (500g) squid rings
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 3/4 lbs (800g) peeled tomatoes
- 2/3 lb (300g) blanched whole almonds
- 1/3 cup (8cl) of Cognac, or any other brandy
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the fish stock, I recommend you to make it “homemade style” with heads and fish bones that you collect from the fish used in the recipe along crustaceans. Boil everything in a large pot, then filter the liquid. It takes 30 minutes to make.
1. Clean the clams by changing cold water several times to remove sand. Place in a saucepan over high heat, with a lid on. Cook until the clams open. It takes about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape the mussels. Place in a saucepan and cook covered over high heat. After 5 minutes, the mussels should be opened. Drain the shells and collect the juices.
2. Cut the fish into section 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) thick. Season with salt and pepper and coat with flour, without excess. Drain and dry the squid rings. In a large saucepan, heat a little oil. Fry the fish pieces to brown them on all sides. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add a little oil and fry the squid rings a few minutes. Remove and set aside.
3. In a food processor, mix the garlic and parsley. Crush the almonds roughly. Mix the garlic, parsley and almonds. Always in the same pan (important to keep all the flavors), heat a little oil again and cook the mixture over low heat. After a few minutes, pour in the brandy. Bring to a boil to evaporate the alcohol. Add tomatoes and mash them with a fork. Stir in the shell juice and fish stock. Mix and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
4. Add the pieces of fish and squid rings into the sauce. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Finally, add the shells. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. The dish is ready! Serve warm for more flavor!
- You can use any white fish, provided it has a strong flavor and stand well on cooking. This is the case for cod, turbot, hake or round fish such as sea bass if the skin remains on the fillets.
- Shrimps, crawfish, lobster chunks are also nice additions.
- Substitute hazelnuts for the almonds.
- Add a pinch of thyme or rosemary if you like to add a mediterranean touch.
- Add few drops of anise liqueur to perk up the flavor.