Shellfish, Orzo and Saffron Stew

This Shellfish Orzo and Saffron Stew took no time at all to cook, you won’t know yourself! Full disclosure though, the prep took me a long time! Maybe there are people out there who can clean and devein 8 langoustines in no time, but if those people had a cooking blog, I’ll bet “Rookie” would not appear in the domain name. If I had my time back I’d ask my fish monger to do all the nitty-gritty but I’d ask for the heads and shells to make the stock because the stock below was yummy! It really amped up the shop bought stuff!

In the recipe, I was told to leave the prawn shells on and add them to the stew for the last 5 minutes with the rest of the shellfish. I’m glad I didn’t listen for 2 reasons:

1st- Who wants to be peeling a hot, wet prawn with their fingers?

2nd- I got way more flavour from boiling down the heads and shells of the prawns for a half an hour and then using the sieved liquid to dissolve the fish stock than I would have from just chucking them in whole and letting them cook for 5 minutes.

Yes, I used fresh fish stock to make the shop-bought stuff and no, I don’t care! This shellfish orzo was just too tasty and there was much more of a fishy taste than if I had just used the shop-bought stock I’m used to. If you’d like to cut out that step, do so by all means! You’ll have a probably almost just as nice a dinner but without all the prep so you could potentially have this done in 30 mins from start to finish!

Shellfish, Orzo and Saffron Stew


  • 8 whole prawns or langoustines
  • 1 tsp fish stock
  • 12 mussels
  • 12 clams
  • 1 good pinch of saffron
  • 3 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
  • 5 - 8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 50ml pernod
  • 150ml white wine
  • 200g orzo
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Devein your prawns or langoustines. If you're leaving them in their shells for presentation purposes, just cut through their backs and their shells with a serrated knife, not too deep, and the black thread should be easily removed whole. Though I recommend removing the heads and all the shells entirely before removing the gastro-intestinal tract. Then you can enhance your fish stock with the heads and shells.
  2. If removing heads and shells, add them to a pot with a spoon of salt and a litre of cold water, bring to the boil and reduce by about half.
  3. In the meantime, wash the mussels and clams well, removing any beards. Any mussel or clam that is open, bang it hard on the counter top. It should slowly close. If not discard it. When they are al done, set them aside until later.
  4. Then add the saffron to a heatproof container and add 100ml of boiling water. Allow to steep for 10 minutes.
  5. Once the stock has reduced by half (after boiling for about 30 mins), pass it through a fine sieve to remove and shell particles. Pour off any excess of 500ml or add boiling water to bring it up to 500 ml, add a stock cube and mix in. Now add the saffron and the steeping liquid to the stock.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the shallot, celery and garlic. stir-fry for a few minutes until they are beginning to soften.
  7. Add the wine and pernod, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
  8. Add the stock and saffron mixture, bring up to a bubble and stir in the orzo. Clamp the lid on the pot and allow to cook for 4 minutes.
  9. 4 minutes later, add the prawns/langoustines, mussels and clams, stir and place the lid on again and cook for another 5 minutes or until the pasta is boiled.
  10. Taste to check for seasoning and adjust if needs be.
  11. Scatter over the parsley and serve at the table with lemon wedges and fresh crusty bread.
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