This shellfish stew offers a nice bit of flexibility, depending on what’s in season around town and what your fishmonger might have on special. If local mussels haven’t come into season yet, double up the clams—or, just as easily, skip the clams and use all mussels. The shrimp are optional, and we urge you to include them only if you can find—and afford—wild-caught British Columbia or West Coast spot prawns, or U.S.-farmed freshwater prawns.
Carefully sourcing your shellfish can be tedious, but it has critical importance. Our locally farmed calms and mussels are highly sustainable, but most farmed shrimp are raised in poor conditions that contribute to regional drought and the spread of disease to wild shrimp populations.
Serve the stew with a simple green salad and good, rusty bred for mopping up the juices.
- 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 pound kale, stemmed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick ribbons
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 28 ounce can peeled whole tomatoes
- 1 8 ounce bottle clam juice
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 pound manila clams, scrubbed clean
- 3/4 pound mussels, scrubbed clean and debearded if necessary (discard any that are broken or won't close)
- 1 pound halibut filet, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (5 cups)
- 3/4 pound (about 12) extra large shrimp, deveined
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Heat a large, deep soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta, cover, and cook until browned, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pot.
- Add the onion to the pot and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, red pepper, and kale, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring and turning as the kale on the bottom cooks down.
- Increase the heat to high, add the wine, and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Use your hands to break the tomatoes into small pieces and add them, along with their juices, and the clam juice, stock, and pancetta to the pot. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the stew, partially covered, until the kale is soft and the tomatoes begin to break down, about 30 minutes. (You can add a little water, if too much evaporates.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the clams and mussels to the pot and cook, tightly covered, for 5 minutes. Add the fish and shrimp, if using, stirring them into the broth, and simmer, covered, until the fish is cooked and all the shellfish have opened, another 5 minutes or so. Serve piping hot in bowls, sprinkled with the parsley. (Discard any clams or mussels that won’t open.)