What’s For Dinner?
Veni Vidi Vici's Zuppa di Mare
(First star is lowest, fourth star is highest)
From the Menu of . . . Veni Vidi Vici
41 14th St., Atlanta
Q: I recently ate at Veni Vidi Vici and had a wonderful dish called Zuppa di Mare, which consisted of several different shellfish and fish in a really tasty tomato saffron broth. Although the dish looked like it would be easy to make, I suspect that there is more to it than some tomatoes, saffron and water.
STEVEN LEVY, Atlanta
A: There is a bit more to this dish than tomatoes, saffron and water, said executive chef Jamie Adams, but it's still "very doable" at home, he said. The key is in the sofrito - a paste of garlic, anchovies, herbs and spices. "That just gives another dimension of flavor to the broth, " Adams said. "Then, when you cook, all the seafood in that broth it just accentuates the flavor and brings them out."
Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 30 minutes Serves: 4
2 cloves garlic
4-5 salted anchovies (about 1 ounce)
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 clean mussels
8 small clams
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups lobster stock, fish stock, clam juice or chicken stock (preferably low sodium)
1 cup plain tomato sauce
1 pound white fish fillets (grouper, swordfish, halibut, snapper), cut into 8 pieces
2 large scallops
4 large head-on shrimp, peeled and deveined, heads left on
4 pieces country-style bread
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with the sofrito. Cook over medium heat until sizzling. Add the mussels and clams and stir to coat well with the sofrito. Stir and cook until the garlic pieces are golden. Add the white wine, increase the heat and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the stock, the tomato sauce and the saffron and return to a simmer. Add the white fish; cook for 1 minute. Add the scallops; cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, and cover and cook for 1 minute, or until all the seafood is opaque and the mussel and clam shells are open. Adjust the seasonings and finish the stew with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Serve with the bread, lightly grilled if desired.
Adams uses a lobster stock at the restaurant, but he says that home chefs could also use fish stock, clam juice or even chicken stock - it's the sofrito that gets the credit for the dish's unique flavor, he said. Once you've tried this recipe, Adams suggests using the broth to cook any combination of seafood you desire or as a light sauce for pasta. "It's really very universal, and that's what makes it so easy to do at home, " he said.