This quick and easy Spanish Style Seafood Stew gets its bold flavors from Spanish chorizo, Spanish paprika, and a saffron broth. Of course fresh is best, but this is an awesome way to use frozen fish and seafood too. It's healthy and ready in about 30 minutes!
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.~~ M.F.K. Fisher, preeminent American food writer 1908-1992.
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks (About Cooking with Frozen Seafood and Date Night)
Ms. Fisher's life and writing embodies the essence of food as more than sustenance. I share her enthusiasm for "sharing food" in an intimate way with the love of my life and my husband of 33 years, Mark Andersen.
We enjoy food in this context on a regular basis on "date night." The night of the week may change according to our schedules, but we make it a priority to enjoy a special meal together at least monthly. This Spanish Style Seafood Stew is definitely worthy of a date night... 🙂
Our most recent soirèe romantique provided a perfect opportunity to use the leftover mirepoix that I had frozen from our Christmas dinner Osso Bucco. Given the fact that mirepoix involves finely chopping large quantities of onion, carrots, and celery, this turned out to be a great time-saver.
My "well-stocked pantry" always includes saffron, tomatoes, potatoes, stock/broth, so my trip to the local market just involved purchasing fresh seafood and rainbow chard. In spite of arriving home well after dark, I had this lovely, aromatic stew on the table before 8:00. This is not to say I rushed the process 🙂 There is joy in the journey... and usually a glass of wine!
🥘 What Makes it Spanish?
I had decided on a Spanish-inspired stew. Spanish flavors include the prized saffron, bay (laurel), garlic, and Spanish chorizo (a sausage typically made with pork and smoked paprika) that I included in this recipe.
A Portuguese version might include linguiça and kale, while a French version might feature fennel and herbes de provence. The method is more important than a recipe, but gaining the confidence to create rather than follow is a process.
Many of my "recipes" are more of a template, and I try to include ideas for making it your own based on what you have available locally and in your pantry!
🦐 How to Put Together a Seafood Stew
The key to putting together an excellent seafood stew lies in selecting the best quality ingredients available to you, and choosing ingredients that harmonize with one another.
Flexibility in choosing ingredients is important on a couple of different levels: 1. Optimal results are achieved when you use the freshest, seasonal ingredients. 2. Learning to make appropriate substitutions can relieve stress and make planning and cooking a meal a positive rather than a negative experience.
For example: After I make a decision to prepare seafood stew for my husband for our "date night," I make an ostensibly "quick" trip to my favorite natural foods store for fish.
My recipe calls for cod, rainbow chard, and Spanish chorizo. When I arrive at the market, much to my dismay, there is no fresh cod because it is late in the day. Swiss chard is out of season, and Spanish chorizo is often difficult to find in our small town.
Rather than panic and try coming up with "plan B" at a moment's notice, I think about possible substitutions. The market has fresh red snapper - another firm, mild white fish - on sale. A sturdy bunch of kale makes a good substitute for the chard, and a bit of pancetta makes a good substitute for the chorizo.
Of course the flavor profile has now become more Italian than Spanish, but a good bottle of chianti or pinot grigio, and you're back in business...
💭 Tips and FAQ
- Do try to be flexible when shopping for ingredients! Any firm, mild fish works fine. If the shrimp smells funny (this has happened to me), or the price is prohibitive on the mussels, choose a different combination of fish and shellfish.
- Shrimp or fish stock is preferred but a good chicken stock is fine.
- Don't use wine that you wouldn't want to drink! It doesn't have to be "top shelf," but drinkable is a must.
- I love to include mussels or clams in my stew, but living in Las Cruces, I cannot always get them (or trust them 🙂 .) I have found the New Zealand mussels available in the freezer section to be very good.
- If you can't find fresh fish and shellfish, you can get a good result with frozen. Be sure to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or quick thaw with cold running water.
- Once you add the fish and shellfish to the stew, you don't want to boil it, and you do want to watch it carefully. Over-cooked fish and shellfish, according to my husband, resembles "an old boot!"
- If you ask the deli counter to cut the chorizo (or pancetta) ¼" thick, you will save time prepping the ¼" cubes. I usually ask for 2-¼" thick slices if I'm serving 2.