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Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Guazzetto of Seafood

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

 

Serve 4

With the summer fast approaching here in New England and with the rich variety of seafood available this particular dish becomes almost de rigueur to make especially because of its simplicity. Of course the fish selection is as important as the technical process. This is not really a fish soup, but then there is no exact translation for guazzetto, which is a rather wet tomato-based fish dish. In this recipe the freshness of the fish will determine the outcome. A particular sensibility to fish is needed to understand how to bring it all together without overcooking. Not to confuse with Bouillabaisse, classic French fish soup from the Mediterranean region of Provence. Traditionally, bouillabaisse was made with various Mediterranean fish and seafood such as scorpion fish and conger, as well as shellfish like mussels and crab. In addition to the fish and seafood, bouillabaisse includes various vegetables, herbs and spices including tomatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, saffron, fennel, orange peel and bay leaves. In the traditional method of serving bouillabaisse, the broth is presented in a bowl, along with toast rounds garnished with a sauce called rouille (which is similar to aioli), with the fish and seafood presented on a separate platter. Modern bouillabaisse is served with all the ingredients together in a single bowl. Guazzetto, however is solely served with roasted country bread rubbed with garlic. 

Ingredients

20 little necks or Manila clams, cleaned

20 mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

6 medium-sized calamari cut into squares, with tentacles 

8 large prawns, unshelled

8 large scampi, cleaned and de-veined

2 pounds white fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup tomato sauce 

4 fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon chili pepper

Flat-leaf parsley, freshly chopped

Method

Clean and prepare the seafood.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the clams and white wine and steam until they open. Strain off the liquor to remove any sand and set the clams aside. Repeat, to open the mussels. Wipe the pan clean and heat a little more oil. Quickly sear the prawns until they turn pink. Set aside while you repeat with the scampi and calamari. Finally, sear the fish fillets on both sides and set aside with the other seafood.

Add the tomato sauce to the pan and bring to the boil. Add the fresh tomatoes and chili. Carefully return the seafood to the pan, starting with the fish, then the prawns, scampi, calamari, mussels and clams.

Add the strained liquor, avoiding any sand. If the dish is very thick you may need to add a little fish stock or water to thin slightly. Simmer for a few minutes until the flavors have melded. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with grilled bread that has been rubbed with a little garlic and good olive oil.

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Rhode Island. 

 

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