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Seafood Stews, Plain and Fancy

One pot wonders for all to enjoy.

Bouillabiasse - made delicious with your own Florida seafood catch.

What's the difference between seafood soup, seafood chowder and seafood stew? Not sure, eh? Well, neither was I, especially since the overlapping and ambiguous dictionary definitions didn't clarify anything. In desperation I finally had to concoct my own definitions, as follows:

SOUP—Pick up your spoon for this one. The liquid is nearly clear, and any solid ingredients are usually


CHOWDER—Keep the spoon. This variation is made thick and hearty by additives such as milk, cream, potatoes,

flour, or tomato sauce. The seafood and other solids, such as potatoes, are generally mashed or finely chopped.

STEW—Here you'll need both a spoon and a fork, because the seafoods are either whole (shrimp, clams or mussels) or in hefty chunks (finfish, squid or lobster tail). But here's a twist: When several varieties of choice seafoods are crowded into the same pot and served in upscale restaurants, the dish isn't called stew at all but some hoity-toity European name like bouillabaisse or cioppino.

Regardless, they are nothing more than fancy seafood stews. Either variety makes an elegant one-pot meal for special guests. Of course there are about as many variations of these famous stews as there are cooks who make them and seafoods that grace them, so feel free to substitute according to your own tastes and budget. FS


2 pounds fish fillets

1 doz. large shrimp, peeled and veined (catch them yourself, using the guidance featured in the September issue!)

1 doz. oysters

1 pound lobster meat

6 small scallops (or 12 bay scallops)

6 clams in shell

1/2 cup butter

1 large onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups fish stock or chicken broth

1 large ripe tomato, peeled

1 tsp. salt

1 lemon, sliced

¼ cup red wine

In a stockpot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter. Add fish and other seafood except clams and sauté about 5 minutes until seafood is cooked. Add stock, clams and other ingredients and simmer 5 more minutes. Serve by spooning portions of each seafood into bowls, then ladling liquid into each bowl. Float a lemon slice on top. Serves six.

Cioppino is another version of bouillabaisse. The Italian emphasis, heavy on tomato sauce, oregano and other spices and peppers, is readily apparent.


2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 green or red pepper, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped, including leaves

1 tbsp. dry basil

¼ tsp. fennel seed

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. dry basil

1 tsp. dry oregano

1 cup chopped parsley

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup dry red wine

1 tbsp. wine vinegar

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 small cans tomato sauce

Your choice of seafoods

Sauté all ingredients except liquids until well blended and onion is soft. Add wine, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and blend well. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

To make cioppino, gather up your chosen selection of seafood from among one or more kinds of fish, plus some shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, lobster chunks, scallops or whatever. The fish should be a firm-fleshed type, such as amberjack, grouper or dolphin, cut in bite-size pieces. Boil the seafood in fish stock or chicken stock. Concoct each bowl of cioppino with one ladle of the heated base, another ladle of stock, and whatever seafood you choose, being sure to include both fish and shellfish.

Of course, you could also do it by simply mixing everything together in one big serving bowl, but ceremony would suffer.


2 tbsp. olive oil or butter

2 pounds boneless fresh fish

1 onion, sliced

1 cup white wine

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 large potato, diced

1/4 tsp. thyme

1 small carrot, thinly sliced

½ cup celery, chopped

1/4 cup chopped red pepper, if desired

salt and pepper

1 tsp. cornstarch

3/4 cup fish or chicken stock

Sauté onion in the oil or butter until clear. Add fish and sauté until done and lightly browned. Add wine and other ingredients. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir lightly to break up fish. Mix cornstarch thoroughly with cold stock. Add mixture to pot and boil until thickened. Serves six.

First Published Florida Sportsman Oct. 2011

By Vic Dunaway

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