Couple weeks ago, I was at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. I went there looking for fruits but left with a heavy bag of fish heads. I couldn't help it, they were free! Such an impulse thing to do. As I was walking back to my apartment, I kept going through a list of things I can do with the fish heads. Though really, the only thing to do with fish heads is to make stock. When I got back to my apartment and finally saw what was in the bag, I freaked out a little. I didn't think I would react this way. Seeing two lifeless heads with their bones and fins and tails still attached, kind of grossed me out. But there was stock to be made! I grabbed the big stock pot available and dumped the heads in. After cooking the fish heads with few carrots, I ended up with 2.5 quartz of fish stock.
Okay, another question popped into my head, what to do with all this fish stock?
Traditionally a bouillabaisse is made with many types of fish and is tomato based. Can the dish I made be called bouillabaisse? Probably not. When I was picking up ingredients, I totally forgot to get tomatoes. Well that and also I only bought 1 type of fish, perch. I really need to write down what I need to buy. Like just the other day when I walked into CVS for toothpaste, medicine, tissue, and paper towels. I walked out with everything except the toothpaste. Anyways, we can call this a "sort of" bouillabaisse or maybe just a plain ole seafood stew.
Dozen clams Dozen shrimp 1/2 lb perch (or whatever fish you like) 4 medium sized potatoes 2 tablespoon miso paste 1 onion Few cloves of garlic Peas Salt + pepper Fish stock
Fish stock Put bones from 2 fish into a large pot, along with few carrots and couple daikons. I used already peeled frozen shrimp for the seafood stew or else I would've added the shells from the shrimp into the pot as well. Add enough water to cover everything. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 30mins or so. After that, strain the liquid. You can freeze whatever you're not using for later.
Fish stew Add oil to a tall pan or pot or Dutch oven. Throw in diced onion and garlic and cook till fragrant, then add the diced potatoes. Saute for about 15mins and add in a quart of the fish stock. Bring it to a boil and lower the heat to let it simmer for another 15mins or until the potatoes are soft.
Stir in the miso paste to dissolve. Add the shrimp, fish, and clams and cover the pot. Leave the lid on for 5mins before checking if all the clams have opened their shell. Some of them may still be closed. If so, put the lid back on for another minute or 2. Add more fish stock if you want more liquid in the stew. Season to taste.
Turn off the heat. Add creme friache or heavy cream if you like and a handful of peas. Give the stew a good stir. Serve it with slices of thick toasty bread.