Portuguese Seafood Stew with Sablefish and Purple Kale

There is snow in our forecast this weekend and I can’t think of anything I would rather do than hunker down and read my book, work on the Saturday crossword, bake some cookies/bread/cake, drink tea and make a hearty stew.

My perfect stew would be filled with fresh seafood and earthy potatoes, onions, garlic and fennel, some crispy kale and a broth that is warmed by the addition of some spicy chorizo and a hint of sweet paprika. It would be easy to make and rustic yet still special enough to serve to some good friends who were stopping by for dinner. This Portuguese stew fits the bill.

I first made this dish about 4 years ago when I was helping a friend of a friend test recipes for a cookbook she was writing. I absolutely loved working on that project and testing recipes on a regular basis would be probably be my dream job. I tested about one third of the recipes for A Good Catch and while many of those I tested have remained in my cooking repertoire, this one is probably my very overall favourite from the book.

A Good Catch was published in 2008, the brainchild of Vancouver writer Jill Lambert. Jill is passionate about good, fresh, flavourful seafood but in her book she also wanted to bring some awareness to the issue of sustainability and the environmental impact of what and how we eat from our oceans. The tone of Jill’s book is enthusiastic yet never preachy and is filled with great information on how we can all make informed decisions when purchasing from the local fishmonger. The recipes come from top chef’s from across Canada and celebrate the diversity of our country’s talent and the fresh and saltwater fish and seafood from coast to coast.

I learned so much testing recipes for this cookbook, and broadened my culinary horizons beyond salmon and halibut, Dungeness crab and shrimp. I learned new techniques to cook fish such as Dogfish and Walleye and even found out that the scary looking Geoduck is actually quite delicious. I also discovered just how much I love Sablefish and local spot prawns and Kushi oysters.

I also learned that just because you are “one of Canada’s top chefs” doesn’t mean that you know how to write a recipe, but that is another story…

Happy weekend!

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