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Basque Seafood Stew

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Basque seafood stew

Basque seafood stew

Hank Shaw
This is a rich and satisfying seafood stew that originates in the Basque country around France and Spain. What makes this stew special is a combination of seafood, hot and sweet paprika as well as a combination of herbs. Good fish stock is important to this recipe, but you could sub in chicken stock or water. I use baby octopus, striped bass, shrimp and baby scallops in this version, but mussels, crabmeat, any type of firm fish, or really any other seafood will do -- just be sure to have a variety. This recipe serves 4-6 as a main course.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb baby octopus
  • 1 lb firm white fish, such as seabass
  • 1/2 lb shrimp
  • 1/2 lb bay scallops
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 chopped medium onions
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 t. hot paprika or Espelette pepper
  • 1 T. sweet paprika
  • 1 wineglass full of dry white wine
  • 1 qt. fish stock (or chicken, or water)
  • 5 Italian plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded
  • 6 chopped sage leaves
  • 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 T. chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice

Preparation:

Cut the octopi into large pieces. Slice the fish into 1-2 inch cubes. Peel the shrimp and wash the scallops. Toss each of them with some salt and set aside -- separately.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stew pot over medium-high heat for a minute or two, then add the onion and celery. Saute for 3-4 minutes, then add the green and red bell peppers and the baby octopus.

Saute the octopus, peppers and onion for a minute or two, then add the garlic and mix well. Cook for one minute, then turn the heat up all the way and add the white wine.

Mix well, and add the hot and sweet paprika and mix again. Let the mixture boil fiercely until half the wine is boiled away.

Add the chopped sage and rosemary, then the fish stock. stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let this cook for 35-40 minutes.

Test for salt and add if needed. Test a piece of octopus: If it is tender, proceed. If not, cook a bit longer.

Once the octopus is tender, add the tomatoes, the shrimp, fish and scallops, then add half the parsley. Cook this at a simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add the rest of the parsley and the basil. Stir to combine and serve.

This stew really needs some quality crusty bread and a good white wine. A perfect choice would be a Spanish or California Albarino, but a Verdelho, Pinot Gris, dry Riesling or Italian Grillo would all be excellent, as would a Greek Assyrtiko. If you are a beer drinker, a light Belgian ale would be nice, too

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