Seafood Essentials: Fish Stew Base

Andy Anderson !


I love a good seafood stew, and although the seafood is the star of the dish, the base needs to compliment the recipe. What you need is the perfect balance of flavors that enhance the seafood; not cover them up.

This base strikes a flawless balance between all the elements of a good seafood stew, and since it freezes well, you can have a nice comforting bowl any time you wish. Just thaw out the base, add some seafood, and you are prepared to eat.

So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.


☆☆☆☆☆ 0 votes

10 Min
30 Min
Stove Top



  • 1 Tbsp
    grapeseed oil
  • 1 Tbsp
    sweet butter, unsalted
  • 1 large
    shallot, finely diced
  • 1/4 c
    yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 clove
    garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk(s)
    celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 c
    dry white wine, i used a chardonnay
  • 2 c
    chicken stock not broth
  • 1 c
    clam juice, bottled variety
  • 14 oz
    diced tomatoes, 1 can, plus juice
  • 2 medium
    bay leaves
  • 1 tsp
    seafood seasoning, more on this later
  • 1/2 tsp
    hot sauce, or more to taste, i prefer frank’s
  • ·
    salt, kosher variety, to taste
  • ·
    white pepper, freshly ground, to taste

  • 1 - 2 Tbsp
    sweet butter, unsalted
  • 1 Tbsp
    lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp
    cilantro, chopped

  • ·
    shrimp shells, more on this later
  • ·
    bacon, more on this later

How to Make Seafood Essentials: Fish Stew Base


  2. When I make shrimp, I remove the shells and place them in a freezer bag for future use. In a recipe like this, I take them out of the freezer, wrap them in some cheesecloth, and place them in the liquid, while it is simmering. When finished, I remove them, and discard. It gives this sauce a nice seafood essence.
  3. The seafood seasoning is important to giving this base its distinctive flavor. Old Bay is one that I like, but for this recipe I used a homemade seasoning:
    Spice Essentials: Savory Seafood Seasoning
  4. In the first steps, you add the butter and oil to a pot, and cook the onions, and shallots. If you want to give this base another level of flavor, do not use the butter and oil; instead, fry up some chopped bacon, then remove the bacon, and sauté the onions, and shallots in the bacon grease. When the fish stew is finished, sprinkle the bacon bits on top… So yummy.
  5. Gather your Ingredients (mise en place).
  6. Add the butter and grapeseed oil to a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  7. When the foaming subsides, add the shallot, and onions, then, cook until the onions begin to soften, about 4 – 5 minutes.
  8. Chef’s Note: We do not want the onions, to burn, or even brown, just let them slowly cook in the butter and oil, until they soften, and give up some of their liquid.
  9. Add the minced garlic and celery, then cook, about 60 seconds.
  10. Add the remainder of the ingredients, except the ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS, and bring up to a simmer.
  11. If you are using the shrimp shells, tie them up in some cheesecloth and add to the simmering liquid.
  12. While the broth is simmering add a pinch or two of salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Keep the pot at a light simmer, partially covered, and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 – 20 minutes.
  14. At the end of the cooking process, remove the shrimp shells, if using, and bay leaves.
  15. Chef's Note: For thinner soup, purée ingredients in a blender and return to pot. For chunkier soup, leave as-is and continue.
  16. If you are making this base ahead of time, do not add the butter, or cilantro, but allow it to come to room temperature, then store it in the fridge for a day or two, or put it into containers, and store in the freezer for several months.
  17. When you are ready to use the base, bring it up to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.
  18. Cube the butter, and then add a few cubes at a time, and stir until melted, then add more cubes until all the butter is incorporated into the liquid.
  19. Add the seafood (shrimp, scallops, white fish, etc.), and simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  20. Add the lemon juice, and stir in the chopped cilantro.
  22. Ladle into bowls, and serve with some nice crusty bread. Enjoy.
  23. Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

Printable Recipe Card

About Seafood Essentials: Fish Stew Base

Course/Dish: Seafood
Main Ingredient: Vegetable
Regional Style: American
Dietary Needs: Vegetarian Wheat Free Soy Free

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