In On The Table Ep. 1, Anthony Bordain and his close friend Eric Ripert cook this dish, while Bourdin talks very openly about his life and work.
Anthony Bourdain was a significant presence in the lives of so many of us. His passing was like the loss of a friend, a fellow traveller. He loved Vietnam for the same reasons I love Vietnam. He too understood that one of the best ways to connect with a people and their culture is through food. When asked where he would like to eat his last meal, he responded: a high end sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Perfect.
Eric Ripert comments during the video “…he is not as precise as myself”, so in that spirit I made a few minor alterations to the recipe presented on YouTube. These were generally due to availability of ingredients. The four key things that set Bourdain’s Portuguese Seafood Stew apart from the countless other versions remain in this recipe: the cumin, the chilli, the use of red wine instead of white, and of course the octopus.
Favourite line: Bourdain describing himself as a “red smear on the highway of television”. In the context of cheap mosquito infested hotels in Asia, that reference made sense to me.
There are so many moving tributes to Anthony Bourdain that have been produced after his passing. To me the tribute by Anderson Cooper is one of the most powerful:
Tribute to Bourdain – Portuguese Seafood Stew
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 green pepper, cut into 10mm pieces
- 1 red pepper, cut into 10mm pieces
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of oregano or 1 tsp dried dried oregano
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 300 g octopus tentacles, cut into 15mm pieces
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 can tomatoes 400g drained and crushed
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups salmon head stock or vegetable stock
- 2 small Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 10cm pieces or one medium/large
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled ands cut into 10cm pieces or one medium/large
- 250 g white fish fillets, cut into 15mm pieces cod, snakehead, something quite firm
- 16 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded or frozen mussels in the half-shell, thawed
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely diced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Baguettes, for serving
- Heat oil a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. I used a dutch oven.
- Add onion, green and red peppers, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add cumin, paprika, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add octopus pieces and cook 2-3 minutes.
- Pour wine into the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits.
- Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and fish or vegetable stock;
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
- Add the potato pieces and stir in. Cover and gently simmer until the octopus and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.
- Add the white fish and stir in.
- If using fresh mussels add on top of the stew. Cover and cook until mussels have opened, 10 to 15 minutes.
- If using frozen mussels in the half shell, add them after the fish has been cooking for 5 minutes or so. They will need 5 to 10 minutes to heat through.
- Remove half the mussels from their shells and discard the shells. Stir the de-shelled mussels into the stew. If they are a decent size NZ mussel, you might want to halve them before adding them back to the stew.
- Stir in most of the parsley and cilantro, retaining some to sprinkle over the stew before serving.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with baguettes to soak up the sauce. Also great reheated the next day.