Ligurian Seafood Stew with a Basil Saffron Creme Sauce -In My Restaurant Kitchen

Ligurian Seafood Stew

As a Chef running a restaurant kitchen, you have many jobs to do through out the day, and of course whether the restaurant succeeds or fails always rests upon your shoulders.   During the course of the day, your responsibilities run from creating your menu, procuring the foods you need to make the dishes on your menu, and then deciding on the best method and how the finished product will look.   A working chef’s is never done!

One of the biggest factors in running a successful restaurant is planning your menu to use as many of the ingredients that you have on hand in different dishes.   You can’t afford to waste product or let product go bad, so it’s essential to come up with creative, distinctive dishes by adding a different twist to each one.  Finding multiple uses for what you have on hand is not only efficient but keeps your costs down.

You’ll find Seafood dishes are always big sellers in any restaurant, the cost of seafood and its shorter shelf life keep many home cooks from creating restaurant style seafood dishes in their own home, but effective planning can help you overcome those challenges.   It use to be hard to find quality seafood for home use, but with the emergence of the newer style full service grocery stores, and discount clubs,  fresh and fresh frozen seafood is readily available.   While still a high ticket item seafood dishes made at home can save you over 50% of the cost of going out for the similar dinner.

Now I’m not advocating making all your meals at home, because there is something to be said for the occasional dinner out, relaxing while someone else cooks, serves and cleans.  Not only is the night out good for your mental health, but it’s also good for your relationship, I think sometimes we forget how much we enjoy each others company without the stress of daily activities bogging us down, and there’s no better way to rekindle romance than sharing a good meal, and a bottle of wine in a stress free environment with the one you love.

So it’s a win win situation, you make delicious cost saving seafood dishes at home, which saves money for those times when you want or need to spoil yourselves with an evening out.   The key to making this successful at home is planning, just like we would at the restaurant.   By planning how your going to use your seafood,  and how many different dishes you can make out of it, your higher priced items split over 2 or 3 different dinners have just become more affordable.

Let’s talk about buying seafood.    First of all let me tell you I always buy shrimp frozen,  shrimp that you see out in grocery stores and even seafood markets has almost always started out frozen, you just don’t see fresh shrimp.  You may from time to time see fresh prawns but those times are few and far between.   Depending upon the season you may find fresh scallops, but again frozen is often the way to go.   Now I’ll let you in on my secret,  I buy all my shrimp ( wild caught) at Sam’s club, there IQF frozen which makes them easy to use and the price is great!  When fresh scallops aren’t available I buy frozen scallops there as well.

Now here’s where the planning comes in, what else can I buy to supplement the seafood to create different dishes using the same products?   This again is where planning comes into play.  When I buy fish, I often buy just a little extra and freeze it immediately (wrap in plastic and place in a zip lock back to protect it from freezer burn), now I have another ingredient to add to the frozen seafood I already have on hand to create another seafood dinner.    Little neck clams and mussels are now available year round and a bag of clams is more than enough for a wonderful  dinner of Linguine and Clams for two, even if you pull a dozen out to use in another dish later in the week.   Mussels will be your least expensive option in seafood, and holding  back a dozen will still leave enough mussels to serve over pasta or just as an appetizer served in their own juices with crusty bread.    I often buy a bag of each and use them in different dishes during the week, and here’s another secret, if you want to lower the price of the dish, shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels and crabmeat go so well with chicken!  In a restaurant the easiest way to help keep the cost down was to use chicken with the seafood, you create a larger portion and still give the customer seafood with their chicken and the perceived value is greater.    While many people don’t even want to think about chicken when they go out to dinner, at home served with shrimp or crabmeat makes a midweek dinner at home, oh so special!

Ligurian Seafood Stew

Another great filler in seafood dishes are vegetables, in the last restaurant I ran many of the sauteed seafood dishes had mushrooms and artichoke hearts, they added flavor and helped fill the plate.    For my Ligurian Seafood Stew, I had flounder, scallops, crabmeat, and mussels left over from our New Years Eve feast, and I wanted to make something a bit more adventurous with what I had left to work with.   My first thought had been to make a hearty chowder, but the seafood was too good to bury in a heavy sauce or soup.  I started thinking of how I wanted the dish to present and how I wanted the flavors to come together…… Since I originally had thought of soup, I decided to stay with the typical chowder vegetable, and to keep the integrity of each individual vegetable I  roasted them.   I also added fennel and whole garlic cloves to help blend and intensify the flavors.

For the seafood, I seared the scallops, and shrimp, broiled the flounder,  steamed the mussels with a little olive oil, and heated the jumbo lump crabmeat in butter, every item retained its flavor!   The sauce started with the juices left from cooking the mussels, and basil and saffron seemed like a good choice to bring the flavors together.

I have to tell you, it’s hard to surprise myself with something I cooked, but this dish was incredible if I do say so myself, the only thing I would have changed would have been my choice of pasta,  I used pappardelle, and a thinner noodle would have gone better with this dish, the pappardelle was just too long and too thick for seafood served in this style.

Ligurian Seafood Stew

5.0 from 6 reviews
Ligurian Seafood Stew with a Basil Saffron Creme Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
  • 4 oz flounder or fish of your choice
  • 4 Jumbo shrimp (16-20 cnt) peeled and deveined
  • 4 Large Sea Scallops
  • ½ bag mussels (25-30)
  • ¼ lb jumbo lump or lump crabmeat
Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 bulb fennel sliced
  • 2 stalks celery large slice (stew cut)
  • 2 carrots large slice (stew cut)
  • 2 potatoes cut in chunks (stew cut)
  • 4 cloves garlic whole
  • 1 medium onion cut in chunks (stew cut)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
Basil -saffron cream sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ½ pound of linguine or spaghetti
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook pasta al dente per instruction on box, then set aside
Roasted Vegetables
  1. cut vegetables and place in roasting pan with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat with oil and seasonings
  2. roast for 20-25 minutes
  1. place flounder on baking pan drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper, add a little water to the pan and bake for 20 minutes
  2. add mussels to saute pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil, cover with lid or another pan and allow to steam open (about 8 minutes)
  3. let mussels cool then remove from shells and place in a bowl, and discard shells, but save the juices in the pan!
  4. add heavy cream, ¾ of the basil, and the saffron to the mussels juices, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, allow sauce to reduce by ⅓
  5. get a saute pan very hot with a little oil and sear the scallops until you get some crusting for color, cook on each side and remove from pan.
  6. Sear shrimp until almost done, remove from pan
  7. In another saute pan, gently heat the crabmeat
Bring it all together
  1. timing is everything with this dish, vegetables, and flounder should be done.
  2. reheat pasta in a pan with a little olive oil or return to boiling water briefly, which ever method you prefer.
  3. Place scallops, shrimp, and mussels in saute pan and reheat gently but quickly, in just a little oil or water.
  4. take the butter and roll it in the flour to make a beurre manie and place in the sauce to finish thickening*
  1. Place pasta in a mound at the bottom of a bowl or center of a plate
  2. place roasted vegetables around outside pasta
  3. place flounder in center of pasta
  4. pour sauce over flounder, splitting it evenly between the two dishes
  5. place scallops and shrimp around the flounder
  6. sprinkle with remaining basil and serve immediately!
*if sauce is too thick skip the flour and just add the butter, if its still too thick add additional cream or a little white wine or chicken stock.


This truly was an exceptional dish, and although it has a few extra steps, the results will blow you away.   This can be done on a larger scale, but make sure you have extra hands to help assemble the dish so it can be served hot.

If you’re looking for additional ways to get the most out of your seafood check out my Frutti de Mare,  Bouillabaisse, and Paella!  

It’s all about planning In My Restaurant Kitchen!

Thanks for stopping by today, stay warm, stay full and have a happy week!


  1. You had me at “seafood!” We do Costco and I’m always impressed with seafood they offer, especially their giant scallops – melt-in-your mouth like butter quality. Your dish looks superb!

  2. This looks just like something I would order. I love seafood and the combo is perfect. I try to buy non frozen scallops just because I find the water the frozen ones retain makes them sweat in the pan, even at a crazy high heat for searing, any tips on this issue Chef?

    • your absolutely right about the scallops, and about the only way to get a good sear is to leave to try and towel dry them a bit, and make sure your pan is really hot, again with minimal oil, or in fact just oiling the scallops. Sear for color only and finish cooking them in the oven.
      The real trick to scallops as with all seafood is finding that point where its just done cooking, especially with frozen seafood, that also helps it retain as much moisture as possible!

  3. Okay mister I don’t even like seafood and I’m drooling. I may need to retry some when mini-me is not around. See if my grown up buds have developed or not.

  4. Hi Chef! I find the same situation at home. In order to save money, I need to use what I have on hand in as many dishes as possible. I always learn something new when I visit your blog, and was happy to hear that frozen shrimp is just fine. It’s often most affordable. I watch the brand I buy to make sure the shrimp is farmed in a sustainable manner. I’ve saved this recipe for the weekend. I will have one happy husband. Enjoy the rest of your week. 🙂

  5. My family loves seafood, and I buy my shrimp and scallop mostly at Costco (no Sam’s Club near me). This basil saffron creme sauce sounds amazing with the seafood and roasted vegetables!

  6. I just love that dish ! I usually buy frozen fish as it’s 2-3 times cheaper than fresh one and dressed it up with any veggies I have on hand 😉

  7. I cant stop have me craving for seafood pasta now ! 🙂 Yours look delicious and I am sure Lisa is happy when you cook dinner :p Have a nice day Chef and I have bookmarked this !

  8. I’ve forgotten how much I miss scallops until I looked at your photos. Scallops (good ones at least) are hard to come by here, so it’s been months since I’ve had them. I think I may need to go out this weekend and scout some out, be it in a grocery store or restaurant. Your stew looks absolutely beautiful!

  9. Ah this looks soo delicious! I just moved to Hawaii and am so excited to experience all the great seafood!

  10. I’m thrilled to not only find a seafood dish you rave about, but the tips on buying seafood! We have a Cost Co membership and I’m going to start looking there for seafood. And it’s great to know that frozen is JUST fine 🙂 Thanks, Chef!

  11. A great and scrumptious recipe. I would love this for my anniversary dinner coming up soon!

    Have a blessed day Dennis 🙂

  12. This looks beyond delicious – I love pretty much anything from the sea and would adore a plate of this. And your photography is amazing! My mouth is watering just looking at this.

  13. I’ve been trying to cook more seafood at home and have had a lot of success with IQF items. When I get the chance to buy fresh seafood, though, I’m in heaven. This stew looks absolutely heavenly — the basil saffron sauce is pure genius!

    I do have some saffron in the pantry, and I think I don’t use it because it’s so precious, but I better soon. I was going to make a paella but this is much more intriguing!

  14. WOW chef! Bravo, that looks really amazing!

  15. OH CHEF!

    I want that stew!

    Oh my goodness, I have seen so many awesome dishes from you…..

    But this takes the cake.

    I’m in awe!

    I’m rendered speechless in that I just can’t describe the depth of my feelings looking at this picture.


  16. Love it. Here in New England, we take great pride in our fresh seafood, so it’s about time I started to take advantage of that!

  17. I love the increase in IQF fish available. The stuff frozen at sea is especially good. I normally have really good luck with Costco, and I think all of their fish has the MSC logo. Anyways, this sounds amazing, and I will have to start procuring ingredients.

  18. This sounds wonderful and I love all your advice about buying frozen, etc. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

  19. This stew looks fabulous! Just love fresh seafood. Yum!

  20. This looks like a great choice for Valentine’s Day! <3

  21. Wow Chef! I could devour the entire pot of this seafood stew, it looks sooo decadent! Thanks for sharing such a drool inducing dish. Have a great night =]

  22. As I eye this, I wish my husband liked seafood but alas, he doesn’t. So that means…. MORE FOR ME!!! Cause there is no way I’m NOT making this because he won’t eat it. I’ll just make him something else 😀

  23. thanks dannıs

  24. This is a fabulous recipe, I love your use of saffron, which as we know sets off seafood incredibly well. I also love the variety of seafood used in this dish. Absolutely beautiful one I will have to try soon!

  25. The stew looks wonderful… but adding the saffron cream would make it divine… must try this combo, Dennis!

  26. Dennis, I’m going to casually leave your blog post open for hubby to see as a hint: I LOVE eating out and would do anything for you to be able to serve me this for a change. Other than that, you’ve posted the recipe – looks fabulous. If I’m not taken out, high time hubby cooked for a real change!

  27. This looks soo delicious! Love all the ingredients you used. I will deft try this dish. thanks for sharing. 🙂 I will be back to your site for some more Delish recipes!!!!

  28. What an incredible meal! Love your tips on getting more seafood at home. I always buy frozen shrimp too, but wasn’t sure that was the best way – now I know! I am going to have to buy scallops that way too; i have avoided them because of the cost of fresh ones up until now!

  29. Thanks for all the useful tips on buying frozen seafood!! This dish looks amazing – we will definitely be trying this soon!


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