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Monday, October 15, 2012

Saffron Seafood Blanquette

Served with fennel, dill rice pilaf

A little crushed red pepper for colour

A good friend recently asked if I had a easy seafood recipe that would work well for a dinner party.

I don't cook a lot of seafood dishes but had made a coquille St-Jacques recipe a while back that was well liked.   The technique used for that recipe was my starting point but I wanted to give it a little bit of a Canadian twist.

I decided I would poach the seafood in a combination of Canadian ice wine and fish stock.  I added some saffron to dress it up a bit and add a little colour (inspired by bouillabaisse).   Finally, as for a veal blanquette, the poaching liquid would serve to make the sauce.

The ice wine added a little sweetness to the dish and poaching the scallops, shrimps and halibut intensified the flavour of the stock.  It turned out to be a really well balanced sauce.  This recipe can also be made ahead of time and gently heated just before serving.

You will need:  serves 6 - 7 

  • 350g (about 12oz) of large fresh scallops, side muscle removed and cut in half
  • 350g (about 12oz) of fresh shrimp (size 41/50), peeled and dorsal vein removed 
  • 400g (about 14oz) of fresh halibut, cut in large bite sized pieces (or any white fish you prefer)
  • 1 medium shallot (40g), finely diced
  • butter at room temperature
  • large pinch of saffron treads
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) of ice wine or late harvest wine (sweet)
  • 500ml (2 cups) of fish stock (5tsp dehydrated stock + 500ml of hot water)
  • 150g (3 cups) of sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • 30g (2 generous tbsps) of butter
  • 30g (3 - 4 tbsps) of flour
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp of salted herbs or salt to taste, pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F);
  2. Butter the bottom of a large deep pan and sprinkle evenly with the diced shallot;
  3. Place the seafood and fish in the bottom of the pan, on top of the diced shallot;
  4. Sprinkle with the saffron threads;
  5. Add the ice wine (80ml - 1/3 cup) and fish stock (500ml - 2 cups) and bring to a low boil over medium high heat;
  6. As soon as stock begins to boil, cover the pan and transfer it to the oven for 10 minutes (the oven ensures a more even cooking process for the fish);
  7. Sauté the sliced mushrooms (150g - 3 cups) with a pinch of salt in 1tbsp of butter and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat, season with ground pepper and set aside;
  8. Remove the pan with the poached seafood from the oven and strain the stock over a bowl, reserving the cooked seafood (you will have about 650ml - 2.5 cups of liquid);
  9. Return the stock to the pan and reduce over medium high heat for 5 minutes to intensify the flavours (you will have 600ml - 2 1/4 cups left);
  10. Allow the stock to cool for a few minutes and prepare the roux:
  11. Melt butter (30g - 2 heaping tbsps) in a pan over medium high heat and add the flour (30g - 4 tbsps) to form a paste;
  12. Cook for a few minutes to remove the floury taste (no colour);
  13. Add the stock and whisk well until sauce begins to thicken;
  14. Add the cream and allow to simmer for 5 minutes;
  15. Season with salt or salted herbs and pepper;
  16. Add the sautéed mushrooms and seafood to the sauce.  Remove from heat;
  17. When you are ready to serve, gently heat the seafood blanquette on low heat but do not bring to boil (this would over cook the delicate seafood and make it tough);
  18. Serve with fennel, dill rice pilaf.  Enjoy!

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