Although this is in no way a traditional bouillabaisse, it comes together in the same spirit: a mess of fresh, seasonal seafood served with equally timely veggies tossed in a flavorful broth. Like most good stews, this needs to be built in stages, or you will end up with a mucky mess.
It can be difficult sometimes to find exact fishes, so if you can't get striped bass, try using one of these local fish: tautog (blackfish), croaker, black sea bass, tilefish or cobia. If you can't get any of those, try ling, cod or haddock.
If you can make your own fish stock, the stew will be better. But it's not a deal-breaker.
You should be able to find wild onions in your lawn. Allium canadense grows as an invasive weed on much of the East Coast. Chives can be used instead.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces bacon or salt pork, cut into small dice
- 1/2 to 1 ounce dried porcini or other mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water (reserve the water)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup of the mushroom soaking water
- 1 large pinch saffron threads, bloomed in 1/2 cup hot water
- 6 cups fish stock or clam juice (may substitute 3 cups chicken broth plus 3 cups water)
- 1 pound Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 12 to 24 small, hard-shelled clams, scrubbed
- 1 cup chopped dandelion greens
- 1 cup backfin or lump crabmeat (from blue crabs), picked over to remove any cartilage
- 1 pound striped bass fillet, skinned and cut into chunks
- 3 tablespoons minced wild onions or chives (see headnote)
Heat the oil and the bacon or salt pork in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Once the pork begins to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 7 or 8 minutes, until its fat has rendered and the pork is crisped.
Meanwhile, chop the reconstituted mushrooms and strain the water through a paper towel to remove any grit.
Add the onion and mushrooms to the pot; increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the onion just starts to brown a little and the mushrooms have released their moisture. Clear a space in the middle of the pot and add the tomato paste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, then add the mushroom water and the saffron with its water, as well as the fish stock or clam juice, and mix well. Season with salt to taste. Add the potatoes; once the liquid starts to boil, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender.
Add the clams; cook uncovered for 4 to 6 minutes, until they open up. Gently stir in the dandelion greens and striped bass; cook for 3 minutes. Add the crabmeat and stir gently to incorporate; cook for about 2 minutes or just until the fish is cooked through and the greens are wilted. Taste for salt and add as needed. Discard any clams that have not opened.
Serve garnished with the wild onions or chives.
Adapted from "Hunt, Gather, Cook," by Hank Shaw (Rodale, 2011).
Tested by Carol Blymire.
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