Well, everyone knows by now the secret of the mega-wholesale-club seafood. That is, I should hope everyone does. Just like their cuts of meat, their salmon is usually some of the most fresh and delicious around town...unfortunately, this also accounts for the local seafood markets.
After battling the crazy parking lot for nearly 30 min, we went straight back to the seafood section to pick up the one and only item needed for tonight's craving: Salmon. Sadly, mega-wholesale-club disappointed, thus forcing creativity upon me while perusing the aisles of Harris Teeter.
Succulent sea scallops, cherry-stone clams, and catfish nuggets were all on sale, and that's when it hit me: Bouillabaisse! (well, okay, let's face it, I neither had time, money, or patience for a full-blown Bouillabaisse, but an April-ized version would work juuuust fine).
In a Dutch oven coated with EVOO and 2-3 TBS butter: 2 med sized onions roughly chopped, 3 cloves smashed garlic, ground with a mortar and pestle: celery seed, dried thyme, dried oregano; 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn, pinch of saffron, and about 1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice (I didn't have any star anise or fresh fennel!) - until onions are translucent. I added the shells of about 1/2 lb shrimp and cooked this briefly until they turned pink. This was followed by a deglaze with 2 C white wine, 1 C clam juice (reserved from 2 cans minced clams--save the clams for later) and 3 C water. To this was added 5 bay leaves, a handful of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, and the juice from one can of diced tomatoes (reserve the tomatoes for later). Lastly, I used an ingredient I just happened to have around the house, but I'm sure fish bouillon could be subbed: I used about 3 TBS Dashi (MSG-free) which is essentially a Japanese form of dried fish-stock. This all simmered nicely for about 45 minutes.
The "stock" was strained into a large bowl, and returned to the pot along with about 3/4 lb baby yellow Yukon potatoes cut into 1/8ths (skins on) and the reserved diced tomatoes. After allowing the potatoes to cook until firm yet tender, about 25 min, all of the seafood was added: 1 bag small cherry-stone clams (scrubbed/cleaned well). These were cooked until they began to open, about 7-8 min. This was followed by the addition of 1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, 6-10 large sea scallops, the reserved minced clams, and about 1/3 lb catfish nuggets cut into bite-size pieces. All of this simmered until the scallops and fish cooked through, about 5-6 more min.
Serve with a nice piece of crusty French bread to soak up all of the goodness!