TRADITIONAL WELSH FOOD -
BWYD CYMREIG TRADDODIADOL
MODERN WELSH COOKING -
COGINIO CYMREIG CYFOES
Photo: Welsh Development Agency - True Taste of Wales
BBC Wales TV’s Chef Angela
Welsh Seafood Stew (Cawl O Fwyd Y Mor Cymreig)
and Easy To Prepare!
By Ken Thorne,
Ninnau Food Editor.
Preparing this stew recipe, my thoughts were: what a wonderful collection of good ingredients put together in such a simple way.
The broth is light, subtle in flavor and is the perfect medium for cooking beautiful fresh seafood. The scallops and mussels were so tender and moist they melted in your mouth imparting the richness of their fresh natural flavors. The shrimp were delicately firm but had a very pleasant meaty crunchiness. Contrastingly, the white fish, cooked to almost falling apart made for almost a creamy sensation with a light sense of the fish texture. The cockles were fun to scoop up with all the other ingredients! The broth, spooned up with any of the ingredients imparted just the right flavor nuances. This meal is now a family favorite.
The Seafood Cawl recipe appeared on the 2003 Calendar produced by Welsh Development Agency (WDA). There was no name, no credit given for the recipe but it had a touch suspiciously reminiscent of Angela Gray. The plated dish design, the photography and the recipe style seemed to have her signature. So, it came as no surprise it was indeed Angela’s work!
Chef Angela’s work is refined and honed on a career spanning seventeen years of cooking in Paris, Belgium and Switzerland where she cooked for some of the cream of aristocracy. One of her fondest memories relates to the time she worked as the personal chef to Andrew Lloyd Weber at his French Rivera home. Nice assignment Angela! Back in the UK, she ran restaurants in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire before settling in Cardiff, close to her birthplace of Caerphilly.
Ninnau readers may be familiar with her name as the author of the book The Welsh Cheese Book, Subtitled "A collection of mouthwatering recipes." A book review appeared in the Ninnau May 2003 issue which indicated the book was cover-to-cover simple, tasty and beautiful dishes. Her recipe using the Welsh rarebit sauce over grilled or roasted vegetables is a wonderful variation on the classic fare and pure Angela Gray!
While in Wales, a couple of years ago, through the kindness of a mutual friend an interview opportunity came up with Chef Angela. She is modest but immensely entertaining, talented and imaginative. Just previously, she had hosted the BBC Wales Twin TV Series Hot Stuff and More Hot Stuff, a TV cooking program highlighting the best of Welsh ingredients and culinary skills. The program was very popular and resulted in the publication of "Hot Stuff", one the best Welsh cookbooks available. Currently, she
is working on a new set of radio and TV programs. The BBC should consider producing an American TV version – guaranteed to be a hit!
Chef Angela was one of a cadre of talented Welsh chefs who played an inspiring role in bringing Welsh culinary skills up to the highest European levels. The Welsh National Culinary Team’s winning of several gold metals in the 2002 World Cup Competition is but a small indication of the improved food scene countrywide. Five restaurants received Michelin Star Awards in 2002 with a dozen or so more coming close to receiving the prestigious recognition!
Angela regularly consults with The Taste of Wales Program and the newer program, Wales: the True Taste, supplying new recipe creations and plated food styling (for photography). In discussing her Seafood Cawl recipe, she says, "I have always had an appreciation of seafood. This recipe was inspired by the Welsh coastal regions with their abundance and variety of fresh, high quality and nutritious seafood from the sea and our rivers. The Seafood Cawl is a simple recipe but a luxurious and indulgent one, particularly because of the scallops and the large shrimp or prawns. Its clear broth is light yet flavorful."
On the historic side, seafood stews have not always been up market. The well-known Bouillabaisse of Marseille was originally prepared in a cauldron on the beach using fish that was least suitable for the marketplace. Ironically, many peasant dishes originally based on cheap, readily available ingredients became today’s comfort foods, the result of better quality ingredients but certainly robust flavors.
Other coastal areas developed similar based stews, most notably Charentes, France that evolved into the American (Clam) Chowder. The Celts of Brittany call their stew Cotriade, its fish ingredients also were of the less desirable varieties. Oddly, no crustaceans appear in the traditional recipes even the modern ones! Maybe, they are too marketable and grace the tables of Paris restaurants! Conversely, robust red wine is used to boost the flavor of the mild fish ingredients.
To accompany all good cawls, whether meat or fish, a good fresh crusty farmhouse bread is essential. The next day, if there are only a few solids left but lots of tasty broth then perhaps, some nice Welsh Caerphilly or Cheddar Cheese with fresh bread creates a wonderful second meal.
Copyright © 2003 - 2004 by Ken Thorne.
By Chef Angela Gray
This dish is very simple and quick to prepare. Use seafood that is in season, your fishmonger will be able to advise. Be careful not to overcook the seafood, it takes literally minutes to cook.
|6 oz finely diced potato
6 oz finely diced carrot
6 4 oz piece of cod, halibut, monk or turbot
1 ˝ lb live mussels
18 raw, extra large shrimp or prawns
|6 king scallops
6 oz finely diced shredded leek
6 oz finely diced cucumber
6 oz cooked cockles
fresh fennel, dill or parsley to garnish
1 ˝ lb white fish bones
4 shallots (or 1 onion), finely chopped
1 oz butter
8 oz white wine
3 ˝ cup water
1 stick celery, rough chopped
1/2 bulb fennel (optional), rough chopped
a good bouquet garni
To make the stock, place all the ingredients into a large pot, bring to the boil, reduce and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the stock into another pot. Add the potatoes and carrot to the stock and cook until almost tender. Add the leek and cucumber and cook for 5 minutes. Warm 6 soup plates.
Add the fish to the stock, cook for 4 minutes, remove and keep warm. Place the mussels into the stock, when they start to open add the shrimp or prawns and the scallops, cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cockles for the last minute to warm through.
Quickly assemble the cawl placing the fish fillet in the center of the warmed dish. Spoon around the broth and garnish with your chosen herb. Serve with fresh crusty bread and Caerphilly Cheese or a Welsh Cheddar (Optional).
Food Editor’s Notes:
All measurements are in US units. Chef Angela’s original recipe called for scallops live in the shell. If you are fortunate to have a convenient supply, use them for ultimate freshness. Alternatively, "dry" scallops are the next best choice. "Dry" scallops are a little more expensive but have not been injected with water! Supermarkets generally do not have fish bones (you need the non-oily type); try the town market or specialty fish store in your area. In place of fish stock, use clam juice or Asian Salted Fish Sauce (available in Asian markets) and adjust to taste. You may find cockles in Canada, difficult in the US – contact Ken – see below.
Hope you enjoy your Seafood Stew - Gobeithio Y Mwynhewch Eich Cawl O Fwyd Y Mor!
Copyright © 2003 – 2004 by WDA, Angela Gray & Ken Thorne.