Shellfish Stew – Johnny Cooke

Shellfish Stew imageJohnny Cooke began his career at the Grey Door restaurant in Dublin before heading off to America to sample life in the Big Apple as Chef at the Water Club restaurant, specialising in New-Age cuisine. Next stop was California where Johnnie added another two top-class restaurants to his already impressive Curriculum Vitae – ‘Gustav Anders’ and ‘Avantis’. ‘Gustav Anders’, as the name suggests, was mainly Scandinavian and ‘Avantis’, a restaurant with origins in Northern Italy.

After 5 years in the States, Johnny returned home to Dublin on 1990 to launch the well known ‘Polo One’ restaurant as Executive Chef, where he remained for a further two years before deciding to go alone. In 1992, he launched Cookes Cafe, where he has remained to this day.There’s a Mediterranean feel to Cookes, and this recipe – a fish stew from Catalonia – is an example of the kind of dishes you can find on the menu.

Shellfish Stew

Serves 6 people

Ingredients:

1 kg Beef tomatoes
2 large onions
6 cloves garlic
1 fresh red chilli
100g rindless lean bacon (optional)
100g ground almonds
3 pinches powdered saffron
4 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
½ litre dry white wine
Juice of half lemon
500g clams
400g Hake fillets
6 large fresh unpeeled prawns
12 scallops, shells removed
400g cleaned squid

Method
1. Skin, half, de-seed and coarsely chop the tomatoes. Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic and chilli. Cut the bacon into small pieces
2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil, saute the onions, garlic and chilli over medium heat until the onions are transparent, add the bacon and tomatoes and reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes
3. Add the ground almonds, saffron, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Pour in the white wine and ½ litre of water. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes more
4. Thoroughly scrub the clams under cold running water and discard any that are not open. Cut the Hake into 2-inch chunks. Wash and dry the prawns and scallops and cut the squid into thin rings. Add all the seafood to the saucepan. Replace the lid and simmer gently over low heat for 7 minutes. Discard any clams that remain closed
5. Serve with the lemon wedges and crusty white bread

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