I've been a fan of Melissa Clark for awhile now--I always look forward to her column in the Times and even went so far as to buy her book. But I've had a few missteps with the book--recipes that fell short and didn't make it to the Hungry Dog.
Happily, my faith in Ms. Clark has been restored with this beautiful and simple fish stew that I made last week. It's quick, versatile, and incredibly flavorful. Within a few bites, the husband and I were already imagining it with scallops or chicken, and other kinds of vegetables.
Oh, yeah--the vegetables. I added the green beans. I wanted the dish to have more color, and it's ingrained in me to have a vegetable with dinner. So I threw in a handful of green beans, cut into one-inch pieces. Next time, I would blanch them first and throw them in at the end. Since I cooked them in the soup, they turned a little grey. Still tasted good, though.
Next time I won't finely chop the lemongrass-it remains too fibrous, so I'll leave it in large enough pieces to eat around. And, the recipe is oddly-sized--it's only meant to serve two. Luckily I had bought a pound of snapper so we had a little extra, and in the end, we each got a dinner and a moderate lunch out of the deal. The rice helped bulk it up, too, in a good way.
One more thing. The husband has started a blog, which you can find here. It's about travel, dogs, style, food, drinking beer, life. In case you're wondering, Slim is a nickname leftover from his Kentucky days, on account of him being very tall and rather, uh, slim. Jump on over and give him a shout!
Coconut fish stew with basil and lemongrass
Adapted slightly from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite
1 T. vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into a few chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 T. rice vinegar
1 T. fish sauce
1 T. light brown sugar
3/4 t. salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 lb. seafood, such as snapper (which is what I used) or other firm fish, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks, peeled shrimp, scallops, or a combination
2 T. chopped cilantro
2 T. chopped basil
Handful of chopped green beans, zucchini, or other vegetable, blanched
Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until the shallots are softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, jalapeno pepper, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, salt, and lime zest. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the seafood, herbs, and vegetables. Cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice.
Place a scoop of rice at the bottom of each serving bowl and ladle stew over the top.