Italian Fish Stew

Recipes and Food Styling by Michelle Buhr
Photography by Brian W. McDonald

2 days ahead

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound calamari
1 dried bay leaf
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
Rind of 1 lemon, cut into strips and tied with butcher’s twine
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup bottled clam juice
24 mussels, scrubbed and bearded
24 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 pound firm, skinless white fish fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
Garlic-Rubbed Crostini, to serve
Salad, to serve

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots and celery, cooking for several minutes until softened. Add onion and garlic, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Stir in thyme, oregano, and red pepper. Add calamari. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Add bay leaf, wine and twine-tied lemon rind. Cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half. Add crushed tomatoes, cooking over very low heat for 40 minutes. This mixture can be stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Add water and clam juice. Heat to a simmer. Remove twine-tied lemon rind. Add mussels and clams. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until shells have opened. Season fish with salt and pepper. Add fish, shrimp and crabmeat to stockpot. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fish is opaque and shrimp are pink. Discard bay leaf and any unopened clams or mussels. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together chopped parsley and lemon zest, creating a gremolata. Serve atop stew alongside crostini and a salad.

Tip: Search in advance to locate calamari. Cooked low and slow, it releases liquid into the stew and is the difference between merely delicious and transcendent.