Seafood Marinara & The Ocean

DSC_0023-2We’ve been having truly amazing weather here in Sonoma County this February. Many days of bright sunshine and above average temps. Although I love this warm weather, we really ought to be having more rainy days this time of year to help combat the drought. But on this particular day, I wasn’t complaining in the least! Because I was spending a wonderful afternoon in the salty fresh air and cooling breezes of Bodega Bay, California. And I had just devoured the most delicious fish tacos at the marina. It was the perfect inspiration for this quick and simple Seafood Marinara dish.

View West from Bodega Head

All you need are a few simple ingredients. And fresh is totally the key here. Get to know your fish monger at the market, or better yet, find a dedicated seafood shop in your neighborhood. One that sources local (as much as possible) and of course, fresh, fresh, fresh! We’re fortunate to live very near the coast, so the catch of the day doesn’t have to go far from the open seas to my kitchen. The beauty with this kind of recipe is you can really adapt it to make it your own. If you like more fish and less scallops, go for it, add more fish. It’s a recipe that allows you to customize the components, based on what you like, and what’s most fresh & available in the market.

Seafood Marinara
Makes 4 servings

I like to buy each of the fish & shellfish components separately (versus a mix that’s already been put together behind the counter). This way I can choose how many prawns or scallops go into each serving. I’m partial to mussels, so I get extra of those!

1 pound white prawns- use extra large (26/30) to colossal (13/15) *see note
1 pound mussels (in the shell)
1/2 pound firm white fish (halibut, sea bass, cod, snapper, rockfish; choose freshest)
1/2 pound bay scallops
1/2 pound squid, tubes and crowns
jalapeño pepper, finely choped
1 yellow hot pepper, finely chopped
2 dried bird’s eye chilis
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil & pat of butter
splash of dry white wine (I used a Torrontés)
salt & pepper to taste

Prep for Fish:
Cut the fish into 1-inch chunks. Double check to make sure all bones have been removed.

Prep for Shellfish:
Prawns: remove shell (optional) and clean/ de-vein. Your fish monger can do this for you as well.

Mussels: I cooked the mussels ahead of this dish (**see note below) and removed the meat from the shell. Then I added it back into the Seafood Marinara to warm through. I did this so I could select only the shells that had opened during cooking. But you can skip this pre-cook step and add them shell-on when cooking all the above components together. Just be sure to discard any mussels that did not open in cooking.

Squid: I was able to purchase the tubes and crowns separately. All I had to do was cut the tubes into approx. 1-inch rings. I trimmed the crowns so all tentacles were about the same length.

Add olive oil and butter to a large skillet which has been warming over med-high heat. Once pan is very hot, add fish and shellfish. Half way through cooking (about 3-4 minutes), add peppers, chili, garlic, white wine, S&P to taste. Continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes, or until prawns have turned slightly pink and seafood is cooked through. Careful not to overcook as the prawns and squid will become rubbery. Serve immediately with fresh salad, steamed veggies or crusty artisan bread. I paired this with Torrontés, a light, dry white wine from Argentina. However, a Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, or Pinot Gris would be nice with it as well.

*Prawn sizes: the number after the size indicates approximately how many of each prawn (in the shell without head) you can expect in one pound. So for example, with the “extra large” size, expect 26-30 individual prawns to equal one pound. Here’s a neat chart to help.
** To pre-cook the mussels: Scrub and rinse the closed mussels well and put into a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add in one chopped shallot, 1/2 cup white wine, 1/2 cup water, 2-3 cloves of garlic and 1- 1/2 tablespoons dried tarragon (or 2-3 sprigs if using fresh). Steam for 7-8 minutes or until mussel shells open. Discard any shells that did not open, you won’t want to eat those.