My dad and brother go on a fishing trip every year in August, and brought back some shark that we’ve been wondering how we want to cook. And about a week ago, in a fit of nostalgia, I was flipping through my grandfather Joe Jones’s personal cookbook and came across his Fish Stew recipe, complete with variations for 21-, 15-, 10-, 5-, and 2-gallon batches. I rubbed my hands together and giggled with fanatical glee: PaPa would LOVE shark in his fish stew!
Bonus! This is such a pantry meal since every ingredient is a staple in our family pantry.
As I’m interested in batches for a standard 4-5 person family, I made just a few adjustments, mainly in the liquid ingredients:
- 3 slices of bacon, chopped into strips or dices
- 2 medium sweet Vidalia or yellow onions, chopped small
- 1.5 lbs potatoes, diced (roughly 3 cups)
- 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes (recommend fire roasted with garlic)
- 2 cups V-8 juice (recommend original or low sodium)
- 1 cup fish or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup fish sauce or white wine (but not both)
- 1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce or soy sauce (but not both)
- 1/4 cup hot sauce (like Tabasco or Texas Pete)
- 1 T Old Bay seasoning (or similar)
- 2-3 lbs white fish (shark and gator work well also)
- Optional ingredients: shrimp, crab, clams, lemon juice.
In a large stock pot over medium heat, drop in the bacon and onion and let sweat and sizzle for 3-4 minutes, just until the bacon starts to firm up and the onions start to get clear but NOT browned or caramelized.
Add the potatoes, diced tomatoes, V-8 juice, white wine/fish sauce, Worchestershire/soy sauce, hot sauce, and seasoning.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the fish. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Use your stirring spoon to break up the fish into smaller pieces. Flakier fishes like catfish and flounder will “melt” into the stew. Sturdier fishes like mahi mahi, snapper, shark, or swordfish will hold up as chunks.
Serve with cornbread or breadsticks or any sturdy bread. Soft breads like croissants or yeast rolls will get gummy and chewy. For this night (photos), I heated some leftover Papa John’s parmesan breadsticks in the oven for 15 minutes on 350°F.
Confession: I HATE tomato juice and tomato soups, which extends to PaPa’s fish stew, but my family loves it. It’s often what we make with any leftover fish from a fry or a restaurant rather than reheating (stinky!) or choking down cold, dry fish.