Quick Seafood Sauté, Italian Style

Traditional Italian menus for Christmas Eve often feature seven types of seafood served as separate courses. Living a way from reliably fresh seafood and cooking on small scale can make this old-style seven-course affair a little impractical. This fragrant seafood dish is a practical solution. It’s a close first cousin to the San Francisco seafood stew, Cioppino and the French Bouillabaisse, but much easier and scaled down to serve two people.

While the freshest fish and seafood combination will yield the best result, frozen seafood is an acceptable alternative, just purchase the best you can find. However, even in landlocked areas, many large supermarkets these days sell a nice selection of fish and seafood. Don’t let the prospect of purchasing seven different kinds of seafood scare your budget. One and a half pounds of seafood is all that’s needed for this recipe that will feed two people well. A half dozen mussels, a few small clams, a handful of calamari rings, eight large shrimp…you get the idea.

Any combination of shrimp, scallops, mussels, calamari, small clams, crab, lobster, and firm white fish such as halibut, cod or even salmon will be perfect. Don’t worry if all of these items aren’t available. Just look for the freshest or highest quality. Serve with a crusty loaf of Italian bread for dipping into the delicious broth, a simple tossed salad and a sparkling white wine for a special seafood dish perfect for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or any night of the year.

Quick Seafood Sauté, Italian Style
1 ½ lbs assorted raw fish or seafood (all about the same size to cook evenly)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic,finely minced
½ tsp dried tarragon
½ cup white wine
½ cup clam juice or chicken broth
½ cup crushed Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon cold butter
Salt & pepper
Hot pepper flakes (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the shallots and garlic until transparent. Add the tarragon, white wine, broth and tomatoes. Simmer over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the seafood to the pan and continue to simmer for about5-7 minutes, tossing gently a few times, until everything is just cooked through (don’t overcook). Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley & the butter. Swirl the pan to incorporate the butter. Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper to taste as well as the red pepper flakes, if using.

Divide the seafood and broth into two bowls and serve right away. Serves two.

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