Fish Stew – a way of doing things

What is a recipe but a way of doing things.

I decided on fish this morning. It has been a while since I have been down to Wards and I felt in need of some seafood. I still have to hand The Observer Monthly Food Magazine from six weeks ago now from which I have been cooking from the new book by Sabrina Ghayour. One of the recipes was for a seafood stew and so I decided to go for that.

At the same time I was thinking on the tomato soup for lunch and I reckoned that whatever soup was left over would make for the passata the recipe called for.

At Wards I bought a just under a kilo of mussels, four razor shells, six great Colchester Clams, a squid, a dozen prawns and a couple of scallops.

There was some pressure to get supper over and done with as kids were wanting to go out. The cooking of it didn’t take long. As I cooked I drank the last pint I was able to squeeze out of last weekend’s barrel of Peerless.

A couple of onions were fried off in oil, garlic and chilli was added, followed by a thumb of ground saffron and then most of the rest of the tomato soup. That was all left to cook down until we were about ready to eat.

It was then a matter of adding the seafood to the tomato sauce, waiting a few minutes and adding some more.

The razor shells went in first. It was slightly disturbing to watch them stretch out in the warmth and then to see the lollollopping length of white meat pop out. The mussels and clams went in then and five minutes later the prawns and squid. As we were about ready to eat I stirred in the scallops and a handful of chopped parsley and tarragon.

We ate the stew with rice listening to Ella Fitzgerald and White Denim.

As I ate I thought that although I had more or less followed the recipe the cooking of it had not been much different from any number of seafood stews I have made – an intense tomato sauce into which the seafood is added to cook.

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