Smoked Fisherman’s Stew: A Hearty Bowl With A Seafarer’s Soul
Maybe it’s my love of the water. Maybe it’s the rainy, cooler weather that we had been having. Most likely, it’s my inner admiration for the Gorton’s Fisherman guy, all decked out in his bright yellow slicker, ready to brave whatever Mother Nature throws his way just to bring you and I the perfect fish stick. What dedication! Whatever the reason, I had a hankering for a good bowl of Fisherman’s Stew, and today is the day that hankering gets satisfied. So with sails readied and lines tightened, it’s time to enjoy a hearty bowl of Fisherman’s Stew prepared with smoked ingredients in a good ol’ cast iron pot. And that’s no fish story!
An onion, carrot, fennel bulb and garlic clove walk into a smoke-filled room. Seriously, these fresh ingredients are cleaned up a bit, combined in a foil pan and allowed to spend about ten minutes in a low heat, hickory smoke sauna, just long enough to build an extra layer of flavor. We’re not roasting them at all, just flavoring with a memorable, lingering kiss of smokey goodness. Then they can rest a bit and cool.
The next task is to gather up everything needed for a tasty tomato-based broth. A large can of whole tomatoes in puree, a can of seafood stock (Or chicken broth or veggie broth), thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes and a chaser of drained capers.
I poured the broth and the tomatoes in puree into a cast iron pot. Then I circled back to those smoked veggies, now cooled for handling purposes. Still attractively bronzed by the hickory smoke, I got to slicing and dicing. Chop ’em however you like, but I like my stews on the chunkier side, so these beauties were sliced in strips and then added to the tomato base. Dump them in with the spices and capers and give it a stir.
Now it’s off to a hot, hardwood fire set up with an indirect side to give these flavors time to mingle and get to know each other. Give it a couple of hours to boil and simmer, rotating and stirring the pot at regular intervals to be fair to both sides and to build anticipation from the escaping aromas.
Now for the main attraction. I have a pound of large 16/20 shrimp that are peeled, deveined, and dusted with an Old Bay type seasoning. Alongside the shrimp is a little over a pound of cod loins that remain as naked as they were sold to me. I stirred the shrimp into the pot to cook into deliciousness while I decided to grill the cod until about halfway done and then put them into the stew to finish as well. Ten to twelve minutes should do it, both for the shrimp and the cod (Six minutes grilled, six minutes in the stew).
After the pot is pulled from the fire and set to the side for a couple of minutes to rest, you’ll open the lid to a hearty yet light version of Fisherman’s Stew that provides noticeable extra flavor from the smoked ingredients. Set yourself down with a big bowl, a sturdy spoon and a fistful of crusty bread to sop up those last bits of broth in your bowl, and you’re in business.
Pretty sure that the Gorton’s fisherman guy would reset his gaze from the salty waves of the sea to the now brightening skies after getting a whiff of this stew. He would surely turn his grey-bearded chin my way and give a subtle nod of his head. The ultimate approval from a man of the sea.
Because Life Is Better Wood-Fired
Smoked Fisherman’s Stew
- Heavy Duty Pot/ Cast Iron Pot/ Dutch Oven
- 1 can Whole tomatoes in puree
- 14 1/2 ounces Seafood broth
- 1 bulb Fennel
- 1 Onion
- 1 or 2 Carrots
- 3 tsp Capers, drained
- 1 large Garlic clove
- 2 tsp Fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp Oregano, chopped
- 1 tsp Red pepper flakes adjust for your taste
- 1 lb Large 16/20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 1/4 lb Cod loin, or another firm fish