Recipe: Portuguese Fish Stew

Yesterday was a rough day.  No to go into specifics but a project I was really excited about did a 180 and left me a bit stunned.  I spent a better portion of the evening feeling out of sorts as I tried to process the situation and my feelings.  Fortunately, The Partner had made some delicious Portuguese Fish Stew the other night and it was the perfect comfort food.  Rich and filling, this stew is the perfect thing on a cold night or when you need a little pick me up.  

The original recipe is from the Food Network that we have since modified by adding in mussels and chorizo.  We removed the kale and the potatoes from the recipe as we found they masked the briny flavor of the seafood and the potatoes had a tendency to overcook making the dish slightly gritty.

Portuguese Fish Stew


Makes 4-6 servings



  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound chorizo sausage
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless striped bass, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 pound mussels
  • 4 slices crusty bread, toasted


Fill a large bowl with two tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cool water.  Place the mussels into the flour and water solution for about 20 minutes.  This will help them disgorge any sand that they may have in their system.  This step should not be skipped unless you want a sandy fish stew (bleh).

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaves and paprika and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, debeard and clean your mussels.  The” beard” is the little tuft of hair like threads to anchor the mussel to rocks.  To remove the beard, using a dry towel, grasp the beard and give a sharp yank out and toward the hinge end of the mussel. This method will not kill the mussel. If you were to pull the beard out towards the opening end of the mussel you can tear the mussel on the inside of the shell, killing it.

Add 1 cup water and reduce the heat to medium low. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then nestle the pieces among the vegetables in the pan.  Add the mussels to the top of the dish.  Cover and simmer until the fish is just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Divide the stew among bowls. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. Serve with the bread.



1) Shellfish are highly perishable and should be bought the same day they are to be consumed.  When purchasing, look for shellfish that are tightly closed and smell briny, not fishy.  Avoid any that are chipped or leaky as that may be a sign that they are dead.

2) If a shellfish does not open up during cooking, discard it.  It is not something you want to eat unless you enjoy frequent trips the bathroom.

3) Feel free to add the kale and potatoes back to this recipe if you like.  The 1 cup of chopped kale is added to the sautéed vegetables while 2 boiled Yukon gold potatoes (large dice) are added when you include the tomatoes.

Recipe: Skate with Orange Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce

One of the great advantages about going to culinary school is that I have a host of award-winning, world known and just darn good chefs around me at every moment I am in the classroom/kitchen.  Our fish fabrication instructor, Chef Scargle, walked me through creating this dish during the day we fabricated skate.  For this of you who don’t know what skate is, it is a non-bony white fish that looks like a small ray:


Skate Wing.....


The wing of the skate is normally the only thing eaten on the fish.  I found the flesh to be quite light, flaky and tender… many ways it has the same characteristics that make tipilia so popular.  The fish combined with the sauce is truly a wonderful sensory experience and is perfect for a Fall evening dinner party.  Besides, the skate wing, once fabricated, almost look like angel wings, so presentation-wise it is a show stopper.

Let me know what you think………

Skate with Orange Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce

Serves 3-4


* 1-2 pounds skate wings, filleted and skinned
* 8 T unsalted butter
* Flour for dusting
* 1/4 fresh squeezed orange juice
* 1/8 cup toasted hazelnuts
* 1 tablespoon fresh juilenned sage
* Salt
* Pepper


Take the skate wings out of the fridge, salt and let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat a pan over high heat for 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-high and put in 4 tablespoons butter.

Combine pepper and flour in shallow bowl.  Meanwhile, dredge the skate wings in flour and shake off the excess. Fry in the butter over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful when turning, their odd muscle structure makes them difficult to flip without breaking.

Remove the skate wings to a warm oven and add the remaining tablespoons of butter. Cook over medium heat until the butter is a light brown and add a pinch of salt. Add orange juice, sage and hazelnuts — it will spatter. Scrape any bits that may have stuck on the bottom and cook for 1 minute.

Plate skate and drizzle sauce over fillet.  Serve immediately.

I Need to Watch Finding Nemo to Atone For My Sins Against Fish ……

Today is the last day of Fish Fabrication. I have tasted caviar, slaughtered countless squids, sliced my way through a school of mackerel and become Public Enemy #1 to rock cod.  I danced the tango with multiple bi-valves and sent many crabs & lobsters to a steamy death.  I smell like a fisherman.   I saw things that have made me swear off fish for a long time to come.  But I am done!

But honestly, lets go back to the horrible things we learned about fish.   For example, did you know that parasites, in particular worms, are a normal occurrence in many large fish such as swordfish?  And lets not forget the various illnesses you can get from seafood…..scrombroid, cigutera, and the various toxic fish poisons.  It  makes me think that Red Lobster could be the deadliest place on earth…..


Aka “The Fish Gaunlet of Death”


Aside from my fear of seafood, the fish fabrication class went much better than the meat fabrication course.  While we had the same instructor, this time around he definitely loosened up and I think in turn had a huge impact now only on the class but me personally.  I tend to clam up during stressful situations and with the mood being considerably lighter in the kitchen, I found myself much more relaxed and receptive to information in class.  I think everyone’s personalities really are starting to shine and it’s really great.

We basically cut and fabricated anything with gills in this course.  I got my hands on trout, skate, squid, clams, lobster and about 10 other things when it was all said and done.  It was an encyclopedic run through our world’s oceans and all that is fit to eat.  Since I rarely cooked with fish, seeing all the various kinds of seafood and how to prepare them was really interesting and a little intimidating, but I really enjoyed it.

Again, let me thank my team for an awesome class.  Without these all-stars, I really do think I would have had a harder time.  We stuck together, kept each other’s backs and in general were our own personal cheerleaders.  Each of them are true class acts.  Jed – your dry sense of humor always provided the perfect way to break an awkward moment.  Alex – you are a leader that motivates by example whether you know it or not.  Rob – thank you for keeping it real and never failing to make us laugh.  Gabe – while you deflated my ego once or twice, it was always to build me up.  Thank you for letting me look over your shoulder repeatedly and never letting the team get too full of themselves.

Here is a stroll down memory lane…….


Alex with a very tiny fillet I just cut....



My first victim....I called him Fred.

Tory hard at work removing fish cheeks.....


The remains of my mackerel......

Doling out our victims....


Shellfish Buffet....never want to shuck oysters again!

Variety of US and European caviars......

Caviar Parfait.....

Starchy deliciousness to put the caviar on.....

Octopus....which I realized has a great purple color and a horrible texture.....


Ok, I am off to take the final!  Wish me luck……