Mixed Shellfish Fricassée

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

This dish is called a fricassée because it sounds prettier than “stew,” not because it follows the stricter definition given on. The idea is to cook each shellfish in a way that suits it best and then combine the liquids released by all the shellfish to form the sauce. A piece of each crustacean is served on the same plate. Remember when cooking mollusks, such as clams, cockles, and mussels, that they must be scrubbed and thoroughly rinsed. Sort through them to make sure there are no bad ones.


cockles, rinsed or littleneck clams, scrubbed 1 lb or 12 450 g or 12
mussels, preferably green-lipped new zealand, rinsed 4 large 4 large
white wine ½ cup 125 ml
water 1 cup 250 ml
lobster, 1 lb 675 g
cognac or white wine vinegar a few drops a few drops
tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped 2 large 2 large
heavy cream ½ cup 125 ml
sea scallops, shucked 4 large 4 large
shrimp, peeled and deveined 4 jumbo 4 jumbo


  1. Steam open the cockles or clams and the mussels in the white wine and water. Remove the bivalves and set aside. Reserve the steaming liquid. If it has sand or grit, decant it into a clean container, rinse out the pot, and put it back in.
  2. Put the lobster in the pot with the steaming liquid. Cover and steam it over medium heat until it turns bright red, about 5 minutes. Remove, cover with a towel, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Put the Cognac or vinegar in a bowl and place a strainer over the bowl. Take the lobster meat out of the shell, working over the strainer to capture any coral. Reach your fingers into the base of the head (carapace) and tail and pull out any coral and/or tomalley. Work the coral and/or tomalley through the strainer.
  4. Combine the tomatoes with the steaming liquid and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Work through a strainer into a saucepan and add the cream. Simmer slightly to concentrate the flavor but not so much as to thicken it or make it too salty. Poach the scallops and shrimp in the sauce for about 2 minutes. Remove the scallops and shrimp.
  5. Thoroughly whisk half the sauce base into the bowl containing the strained coral/tomalley. Transfer this mixture to a saucepan, ideally one with sloping sides. Whisk the sauce over medium heat. Don’t let the sauce get too hot; cook it only until it turns from pink to orange.
  6. Arrange the shellfish in heated soup plates and pour the sauce over and around them.