Spicy Fish Stew with Saffron

Serves 4–6

Saffron is used in fish stews throughout the Mediterranean and gives such a glorious color to the broth. Toasted rounds of Italian bread rubbed with garlic are perfect placed at the bottom of each bowl. Use scissors to coarsely cut the plum tomatoes in the can before adding them to the pot.

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 8-ounce bottles clam broth
  • 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, with juice
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound firm-fleshed white fish, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add fennel and sauté for 5–7 minutes, or until softened. Stir in garlic. Add wine and let reduce by about half. Add 2 cups water, clam broth, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and saffron. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Add all of the seafood. Toss very gently, cover and let sit on low for 3–5 minutes or until fish is opaque. Turn heat off, let sit another 5 minutes, or until mussels have opened. (Discard any that do not open.) Stir in parsley, orange juice, and zest.