This shellfish stew was inspired by the foundational Japanese stock, dashi. Though it contains neither kombu nor katsuobushi, the stock gets its minerality from charred onions, ginger, and garlic (a Mexican and Vietnamese technique) and oceanic umami from shrimp shells. Serve with classic aioli to enrich the finished stew.
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2 medium yellow onions, 1 onion cut into quarters through stem end and 1 onion finely minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, halved lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled, shells reserved
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups water
1/4 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
8 small Japanese turnips, quartered, or 1 small celery root, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Aioli, for serving (see Note)
How to Make It
Place quartered onion and ginger, cut sides down, in a stockpot, and add garlic cloves. Cook over medium-high until vegetables are deeply charred but not burned, about 4 minutes per side. Add oil and shrimp shells, and cook, stirring, until shells are bright pink, about 3 minutes. Add wine, and stir to combine, scraping browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add 6 cups water, and bring to a simmer. Cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Set aside stock.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until crispy and fat has rendered, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate.
Add minced onion to drippings in Dutch oven and cook over medium, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and sweet potato, and cook, stirring occasionally, 6 minutes. Add turnips and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft around edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook until brick red, 1 to 2 minutes. Add stock and bring to a simmer.
Add clams to Dutch oven, ensuring they are fully submerged, and add shrimp. Cover and simmer 3 minutes. Add mussels; cover and simmer until clams and mussels have opened and shrimp are opaque, 2 to 4 minutes. (Discard any mussels that do not open.) Taste broth and add salt, if needed. Serve stew topped with dollops of aioli and crispy bacon.