Seafood Stew with Fennel, Saffron and Bay Leaves

2013 Nov/Dec

The addition of crushed toasted almonds creates a rich broth with a nutty sweetness that goes perfectly with the flavour of the fennel. Feel free to substitute pretty much any seafood that you like.


  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, cores removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 t. fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 c. dry white wine
  • 4 c. fish stock
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads infused in 1 T. hot water
  • 1/2 c. blanched almonds, toasted and roughly ground in a mortar and pestle
  • kosher salt and chile flakes to taste
  • 1 lb. halibut, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 lb. clams, cleaned
  • 1 lb. prawns, shells removed, tails on
  • juice of one lemon


Preheat a large saucepan over medium-high; add the olive oil and the onions and sauté for 15-20 minutes, until soft and starting to brown on the edges. Add the fennel, garlic, bay leaves and fennel seeds. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the fennel has softened and become fragrant. Add the wine, simmer for 5 minutes, then add the fish stock and the saffron water. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the almonds and cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste the broth and season it with salt and chile flakes.

Add the halibut, clams and prawns, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until everything has just barely cooked and the clams have all opened. Gently stir in the lemon juice, taste for seasoning and serve immediately with lots of toasted bread to sop up the broth.
Serves 4 to 6.