If you’ve been around long enough to remember that, maybe you’ve also noticed that some woman named Pam comments on darned near every recipe I post. Who is this woman? Why is she StrawberryPlum #1 fan? Is this Sarah character really popular enough to have some crazy stalker?
No, she’s my mother, of course, and a very special lady whose birthday happened to be this last weekend.
There’s something else you should know about my mom. She looks at least as giddy as I looked in that picture when faced with a giant bowl of cioppino, bouillabaisse, fish stew, or zuppa di pesce. Whatever you call it, if it involves some combination of shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and fish she is totally into it. In other words, deciding what to make for her birthday dinner is kind of a no-brainer.
So what goes into my zuppa di pesce? It’s open to interpretation but I like the combination I came up with for this version: monkfish, shrimp, sea scallops, and Manila clams.
Other than the seafood? Honestly, not much. Onion, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, white wine, pepper flakes.
Sear the monkfish and scallops, remove and start building flavors. Olive oil, onion, sliced fennel. Garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes. White wine. Crushed tomatoes. Broth or water. Simmer, let flavors meld.
The fish goes back in the pot to finish cooking. Shrimp and clams join the party. And the scallops. Yes, yes, not a bad looking pot.
Ladle it up, sprinkle with fennel fronds, and drizzle with olive oil. Happy eating for a happy birthday.
- 1⅓# Monkfish Loin, cut in 4 fillets
- 8 U15 Sea Scallops
- 8 Jumbo Brown Shrimp, cleaned, tail left on, shells reserved(*see notes)
- 1½# Manila Clams
- ½ large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium bulb Fennel, thinly sliced, a few fennel fronds reserved
- 2 cloves (or more!) Garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 c. Dry White Wine
- 2 14.5 oz cans San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed
- 3 c. Broth(*see notes) or water
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Rustic Italian Bread or Baguette, toasted, rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with olive oil
- Pat the monkfish and scallops dry and season with salt. Coat a heavy bottomed pot with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sear the monkfish on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove from pan and place on a rimmed plate or shallow bowl (so the juices don't escape!). Add more oil if needed and sear the scallops on both sides, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove and reserve, along with the monkfish.
- Add a little more olive oil to the same pot and sauté the onions and fennel until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to a clear spot (add oil if the pan seems too dry) and sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Deglaze with about a cup of white wine, scrapping up all of the bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let most of the wine evaporate then add the crushed tomatoes and broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until flavors have united.
- After 15-20 minutes of simmering, add the monkfish, nestling it into the tomato-y broth, along with any accumulated juices. Continue to simmer.
- After about 10 minutes, add the shrimp and clams and continue to simmer until the shrimp have almost cooked and the clams and almost opened, 5-10 minutes, depending on the size. At this point, add the scallops, along with any juices, and simmer for another 2 minutes or so until the clams have all opened, the shrimp are cooked and the scallops are heated. Taste broth, add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, as needed
- Divide seafood between bowls and ladle broth, fennel, and onions over the top. Drizzle with olive oil (the good stuff!) and sprinkle with the reserved fennel fronds. Serve with toasted, garlic-rubbed bread.