Every food culture that Marsh Skeele has encountered throughout his travels and culinary adventures has had their own versions of a seafood stew. This French version is one of his favorites. It has a long list of ingredients, but it’s actually fairly simple.
Use the Dungeness crab shells - or another tasty, wild crustacean, like our spot shrimp - as the base of a home-made stock, and be sure to put the meat in as well. If you’re feeling adventurous, any white-fleshed species like rockfish, halibut, or lingcod will work well as a substitute for the Pacific cod. It’s warming and delicious.
- 2 Dungeness crab leg clusters
- 1 pound Pacific cod, cut into 1 inch strips
- 5 ½ cups water
- 3 bay leaves
- 12 whole black peppercorns
- Peel from one orange
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 leek, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tomatoes
- 1½ cups dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
- ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1 ounce creme fraiche or sour cream (optional)
To make a stock, remove the meat from the Dungeness leg clusters & save all shells. Bring water to a simmer. Add shells, bay leaf, peppercorns, & orange peel. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
While the stock simmers, quarter tomatoes, lightly coat in olive oil & a pinch of salt. Roast at 400° for 15 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom pot. Add the onion, leek, and fennel bulbs, and sauté until soft and translucent. Save fennel fronds for garnish. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add tomatoes & wine. Bring to a boil, reducing by half. Strain crab stock through a fine mesh strainer. Add remaining liquid to wine & vegetable mixture.
Add 1 tbsp thyme, saffron, and smoked paprika, and simmer 10 minutes. Then, add the cod & crab meat. Cook 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, garnish with a dollop creme fraiche, remaining fresh thyme, and fresh fennel fronds. Serve hot.
Marsh’s pro cooking tip: Always save your crustacean shells (or any meat bones, for that matter) for the making of rich, hearty home-made stocks. Just add some aromatic vegetables, simmer a while, and strain!