3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons Spanish brandy or cognac
1 small dried chile or 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Pinch of saffron threads, optional
2 large tomatoes (drained canned are fine), cored and diced
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1Â 1/2 pounds mussels, cleaned (page 208)
1Â 1/2 pounds littleneck or mahogany clams or cockles, well scrubbed
1/2 pound shrimp (15 to 30 per pound), peeled
1/2 pound squid, cleaned (page 98), cut into rings, tentacles left intact
1 pound fillets of halibut, monkfish, grouper, or other firm white fish, skinned and cut into 1-inch chunks
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Put the oil in a deep skillet or flameproof casserole with a lid and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the brandy and bring the mixture to a boil. Crumble the chile and saffron if youâre using it into the skillet, then stir in the tomatoes along with a little salt and pepper. When the tomatoes break up, add the wine and bring to a boil.
Add the mussels and clams and cover. Cook until the first of these begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, squid, and fish and cook until the shrimp is pink, the fish cooked through, and most of the mollusks open, another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish and serve.
In a food processor or blender, process 1 cup toasted almonds or hazelnuts with the garlic, onion, and 1/2 cup water until a paste is formed. Add this paste to the skillet in step 1 where you would have added the garlic and onion. Double the amount of white wine and proceed as directed.