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Shellfish Stock

Shellfish Stock by chef Thomas Keller

This versatile stock can serve as the base for a shellfish soup, it can be reduced and served as a sauce or it can be used as a poaching liquid for fish or shellfish.
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• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 3/4 cups sliced (1/4-inch) shallots
• 1 cup sliced (1/4-inch) carrots
• 2 heads garlic, clovesse parated, peeled, and smashed
• 2 cups sliced (1/4-inch) fennel
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 2 cups diced (1/4-inch) plum tomatoes
• 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
• 1/4 cup Pernod
• 18 to 20 thyme sprigs
• 6 to 8 tarragon sprigs
• 4 to 6 Italian parsley sprigs
• 3 bay leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
• 6 cups fish fumet (recipe follows)
• 1 tablespoon saffron threads
• 1 pound mussels, scrubbed
• 1 pound clams, such as Manila clams, scrubbed
• 1 pound oysters, scrubbed

Heat the oil in a large Copper-Core Dutch Oven over low heat. Increase the heat to medium, add the shallots, carrots and garlic, then cook gently for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the fennel and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Move the vegetables to one side of the pot, add the tomato paste, let the paste cook on the hot bottom of the pot for 1 minute, then stir it into the vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, then add the wine and Pernod, bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the thyme, tarragon, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Add the fish fumet and bring to a simmer. Add the saffron and shellfish, simmer for 30 minutes, removing the clams, mussels and oysters as they open, placing them on a tray to cool. Remove the Dutch Oven from the heat and let the broth settle for about 15 minutes.

Discard any shellfish that have not opened. If you are making the shellfish soup, remove the mussels, clams and oysters from the shells and place in a small bowl; reserve any shells you'd like to use for a garnish. If you are freezing the stock, the mussels, clams and oysters can be eaten (refrigerate for no more than a day) or discarded.

The stock must be strained several times for clarity. Strain it through a fine-mesh strainer, then rinse the strainer and line with a triple layer of dampened cheesecloth. Strain two to three more times, rinsing the cheesecloth and strainer each time to remove as much residue as possible. Strain a final time into a storage container. If you are making the soup, ladle enough broth over the shellfish to cover them. Place the container in an ice bath to cool quickly, then refrigerate the stock for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

Makes 6 cups

Shellfish soup

Adding potatoes gives body to the soup but the potatoes will not be discernible in the finished soup. Rinse them under cold water for at least 4 minutes to remove some of the starch, then cut into slices of the same thickness so that they cook at the same rate.

• 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
• 6 cups shellfish stock (above)
• 3 garlic cloves
• Extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cup cubed (1/2-inch) country bread (crusts removed)
• Coarse salt
• 1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley

Place the potatoes in a 3-quart Copper-Core Sauce Pan, cover with the stock, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Meanwhile, to blanch the garlic-place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Drain the garlic and blanch 2 more times in fresh water.

(Blanching the garlic removes its harshness.)

Add the blanched garlic to the stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft. Meanwhile, pour a film of olive oil into a large fry pan and warm over low heat. Add the cubes of bread and a sprinkling of salt, increase the heat slightly, and brown the croutons, tossing them often, for about 6 minutes, or until they are an even golden brown. Remove from the pan.

When the potatoes are soft, strain the stock into a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl with a spout. Place the potatoes in a blender and begin to puree them. With the machine running, gradually pour in the liquid. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, gently re-warm the reserved shellfish. Place a small mound of shellfish in the bottom of six wide, shallow soup bowls. Pour the soup around the shellfish. Arrange the croutons over the soup and sprinkle with parsley. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Serves 6

Fish fumet

When making fish fumet, it is important to be sure that the bones are cleaned and trimmed, then soaked so the fumet will be clear. Follow the recipe carefully, it is the details that will make a big difference in the end result.

• About 5 pounds bones from halibut, bass, sole, flounder or other non-oily fish, tails, heads, with any skin and fins removed.
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 1/4 cups sliced (1/8-inch) leeks, rinsed
• 1 cup sliced (1/8-inch) fennel
• 2/3 cup sliced (1/8-inch) shallots
• 3/4 cup sliced (1/8-inch) button mushrooms
• 2 bay leaves
• 18 to 20 thyme sprigs
• 1 small bunch Italian parsley, leaves and tender stems only
• 1 teaspoon Coarse salt
• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
• 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

Cut the side sections of the fish frames away from the backbones and cut into large pieces, about 3 to 4 inches.

Cut the backbones into smaller sections. Rinse the bones under cold water and place in a large container. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, changing the water several times, until the water remains clear.

Heat the oil in a large Copper-Core Dutch Oven or stockpot over low heat. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the vegetables, herbs, salt, and pepper, then cook gently for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine. Drain the fish bones and arrange them over the vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and steam for 5 minutes, or until the bones are opaque.

Add enough cold water, about 2 1/2 litres, to cover the bones and slowly bring to a simmer. Skim any impurities that rise to the top of the pot. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let the broth settle for a few minutes. Leaving the bones in place, ladle the fumet through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a dampened tea towel into a bowl or other container. Tilt the pan to get all the fumet. But do not push against the solids in the strainer, this will cloud the fumet.

Place the bowl in an ice bath to cool quickly, then refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

Makes around 2 litres 

Chef Thomas Keller's tip



"Although you must first make a fish fumet to make the stock, the fumet, like the stock, can be made ahead and frozen to have on hand."
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