Got Frozen Salmon? Make This.

Smoky Salmon Stew
Smoky Salmon Stew with Tomato, Potato, and Fennel

We live in Southern California, where we can walk to the docks and pick up local fresh fish arriving by the hour. Our markets are full of fresh fish that is flown in daily from around the world. So, why buy frozen fish?

  1. Convenience of having protein in the freezer, on hand, ready to thaw.
  2. Value where frozen is typically 20 to 25% less per pound than fresh.
  3. Availability when fresh fish is not in season, frozen is always there.
  4. Taste and texture are not sacrificed, especially in a recipe like this stew.

The frozen farm-raised Atlantic salmon comes from Whole Foods Market where they source from responsibly managed fish farms that aim to help maintain sustainable seafood supplies. Their salmon are raised in carefully monitored, low-density pens and tanks without antibiotics, pesticides or added growth hormones.

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart Living. For a cold weather meal, I loved the idea of a smoky fish stew and added another layer of smoky heat with Korean chili threads (shilgochu). They are finely-sliced dried chilis that are reddish brown in color with smoky red pepper and fruity flavors, and a medium degree of heat. Along with fennel fronds, the chili threads add a savory embellishment to the final presentation.

Smoky Salmon Stew Recipe


  • 3 T. olive oil, plus more to garnish
  • 1/2 head fennel, plus fronds for garnish
  • 2 celery stalks
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano preferably)
  • 16 oz. clam juice
  • 10 small yellow potatoes, quartered
  • 2 lb. frozen salmon, defrosted, skin removed, cut into large chunks
  • korean chili threads

Smoky Salmon Stew


The best method to thaw the frozen filets is to remove all packaging, place in a shallow dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. With a sharp knife, remove the skin. Rinse and dry with paper towel.

Heat oil in a soup pot. Cook fennel and celery until soft, add garlic and paprika, cook another minute. Add tomatoes and juice. Mash tomatoes (a potato masher works great). Cook for 5 minutes. Add clam juice, potatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile season salmon with salt. Gently place salmon into the stew and simmer until just cooked through. Ladle stew into warm bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, fennel fronds, and Korean chili threads.

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