Winter Warming Seafood Stews
Only a nice soup will warm you up in the winter, and in Eastern NC we love it when it is a seafood-based recipe. The following recipes were collected from some well know Down East North Carolina ones from the coast as well as a little inland like right here in Kinston.
“Down East,” referring to Coastal North Carolina, is blessed not only with fish, shellfish, and abundant local produce; it’s also blessed with loads of great cooks. The recipes from the region are distinctive for their simplicity, as locals prefer to taste their seafood rather than a mix of seasonings.
Down East Shrimp Stew
(This recipe came from an old Beaufort NC recipe)
- 2 lbs. medium shrimp
- 6 medium potatoes, cubed
- 6 cups water
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. self-rising cornmeal
- 1 Tbs. bacon drippings
- Mix ingredients in 4 quart saucepan. Cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add cornmeal to thicken.
Hatteras Style Clam Chowder
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 5 stalks celery, sliced
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 4 cups, peeled, cubed white potatoes
- 2 lbs. fresh minced clams, with juice
- 3 quarts clam juice
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 slices crisp, cooked bacon
In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion, celery, and carrots in oil until they begin to soften. Stir in potatoes, clams, clam juice, thyme, pepper, and bacon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Serves 8. Each serving contains Calories 265, Fat 4 g, Carbohydrates 23 g, Protein 32 g, Cholesterol 86 mg, Sodium 941 mg.
Eastern North Carolina Fish Stew
(Shared from “A Chef’s Life” and Vivian Howard)
- 1 pound smoked bacon, sliced
- 6 ounces (1 can) tomato paste
- 3 pounds white or red potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
- 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled, halved and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced (optional)
- 3 pounds fish steaks, about 3 ounces each, with bones in tact (red drum, rockfish or sheepshead are good options)
- 2 ½ tablespoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili flakes
- 1 dozen eggs
- 1 loaf white bread (or if you are lucky, someone can cook up some lace cornbread)
- Cut the bacon slices into 1-inch squares. Brown it on the bottom of an 8- to 10-quart Dutch oven or cast-iron pot. Once it’s crisp, remove it and reserve.
- Whisk the tomato paste into the bacon fat, making sure you scrape up all the scattlings left from browning the bacon.
- With the heat off, begin layering the ingredients. Keep in mind you want to end up with three layers.
- Start with a layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of onions and garlic, if using, followed by a layer of fish. Top the fish with a third of the salt and a third of the chili flakes. Repeat with two more layers.
- Fill the pot with enough water to just barely reach the top of the fish. If there’s a little fish peeking out over the top, that’s OK. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring up to a boil slowly over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat and let it cook at a high simmer for about 15 minutes. Check the potatoes for doneness. They should be tender, not falling apart.
- Taste the broth and add more salt if needed. Then, with the stew at a good simmer, add the eggs one by one in a single layer over the top of the stew. You’re trying to cook whole eggs in the broth.
- Once the eggs are cooked through, use a large ladle to portion the stew. A proper serving is at least one piece of fish, two potatoes, some onions and an egg swimming in broth. Sprinkle each bowl with some bacon and serve with a slice of white bread.
Down East Clam Chowder
(Recipe courtesy of NC Sea Grant)
- 1 quart coarsely chopped chowder clams, with their juice
- ¼ pound salt pork
- 1 quart water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups diced potatoes
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 cup instant potato flakes for thickening (optional)
- In large saucepan, fry pork over medium heat until crisp. Remove pork and discard.
- Add clams, water, onion, salt and pepper to pan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook slowly until clams are tender, about 1½ hours.
- Add potatoes and onion, and cook until potatoes are done, about 20 minutes. Add potato flakes and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Easy Tomato Shrimp Stew
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes with green pepper, celery, and onions
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 12 ounces fresh cleaned shrimp
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the diced tomatoes and sliced pepper and onion strips.
- Add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano, and bring to a simmer.
- Add the shrimp, and simmer about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are done.
Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 146, Fat 1 g, Carbohydrates 13 g, Protein 19 g, Cholesterol 214 mg.
Crock Pot Shrimp, Sausage, and Chicken Gumbo
- ½ pound medium shrimp
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ pound smoked sausage (cut into ½ inch slices)
- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts (cut into bite-size pieces)
- 1½ cups frozen okra (sliced)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 cups chicken stock (unsalted or low sodium)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes (undrained, optional)
- 1½ cups brown rice (uncooked)
- 3 cups chicken broth (or water, for the rice)
- Gather the ingredients.
- Peel the shrimp. With the tip of a sharp knife, make a shallow cut down the back of each shrimp. Remove the dark veins and rinse the shrimp under cold running water. Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, or until they are pink and opaque. Drain and transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
- Wipe the saucepan out and add the flour and oil; mix well. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for about 8 to 12 minutes, or until mixture turns a light reddish-brown. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.
- Transfer the flour and oil roux mixture to the crock-pot. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the rice and the 3 cups of stock or water; stir well to combine ingredients.
- Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours. Add the cooked shrimp to the gumbo; mix well.
- Cover and continue to cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes longer.
- During the last hour add uncooked rice and chicken broth.
Crock Pot Shrimp and Grits
- 6 cups chicken broth
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 ½ cups, quick-cooking grits, uncooked
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup red pepper, chopped
- 6 green onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ lbs. small shrimp, peeled and cleaned, vein removed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chilis, drained
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Combine chicken broth, salt, and grits in the crock-pot. Cover and cook on LOW 6-8 hours.
- Two hours before serving, sauté the peppers, onions, garlic, and shrimp in the 2 tablespoons butter until tender. Add this mixture to the crock-pot along with the cheeses, tomatoes with chilies, and cayenne, if using.
- Continue to cook on HIGH for an additional 2 hours.