NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 16, 2013

Seafood stew can be ladled up in 30 minutes

When fall weather has us hankering for a bowl of warmth, we tend to think of chili and beef stew.

The trouble with both of those delicious options is time. The best versions of each tend to require long simmers to really develop the great and comforting flavors we’re looking for. That’s fine for a weekend spent in the apple orchard, but hard to squeeze in during the week when kids and errands are competing for our time at the stove.

And that was the inspiration for this delicious seafood stew. It is every bit as rich and flavorful as a good chili or meat-based stew, but cooks up in no time. Unlike beef, which needs a long, low simmer to become tender, seafood prefers to be cooked quickly (otherwise, it can toughen up).

There aren’t a whole lot of rules for a recipe such as this. Add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. But do cook the seasonings with the oil and onion first, as described in the recipe. This helps them quickly develop the sort of deep flavors you’d normally get from a much-longer cooking time.

And don’t be put off by the “spicy” in the recipe title. The heat is mild and is there mostly to highlight the other flavors in the dish.

SPICY SHRIMP AND HADDOCK STEW

Start to finish: 50 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 russet potatoes, diced

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed (use the back of a spoon)

2 stalks celery, chopped

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

8-ounce bottle clam juice

2 cups water

1 pound raw, shelled, extra-large shrimp

1 pound haddock (or other mild white fish, such as cod or whiting), cut into small chunks

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