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  • Serves: 6 to 8

While this wonderful seafood stew is definitively from San Francisco, it’s too perfect for the Pacific Northwest’s seafood to leave out. This stew came from the city’s Italian fishermen, who used whatever little bits were leftover from the day’s catch, along with canned tomatoes, a few herbs and plenty of wine. Those origins should give a hint as to the flexibility of this recipe: use whatever seafood you have around, and don’t feel beholden to the ratios or amounts listed here. It’s nearly essential to serve this with crusty bread that you can drag through the buttery broth.


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ pound clams, rinsed and scrubbed
  • ½ pound mussels, debearded and scrubbed
  • ½ pound spot prawns, peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound fish (see note)
  • 1 crab, cooked but still in the shell, separated into lumps
  • ½ bunch parsley, chopped


Heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onion, garlic, celery, leek, fennel and salt. Stir until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and fennel seeds, and again stir for about 5 minutes, letting the tomato paste deepen in color a bit.

Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of water, and the bay leaves, oregano, thyme, cayenne, and wine. Once this comes to a boil, cover and let it simmer for about an hour.

Turn the heat back up to medium, stir in the clams and mussels and cover for 5 minutes. Then add the spot prawns, fish, and crab, and cover for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.

Garnish with the parsley.

Special notes:

Halibut works well here, but any white fish such as rockfish, cod or lingcod works too, either from scraps (often very cheap at a fish market) or in about 2-inch pieces.


Recipe excerpted from “The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook.” Text copyright 2019 Naomi Tomky, photos copyright 2019 Celeste Noche. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press. All rights reserved.

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