The Chef’s Take: Seafood and Tomato Stew from John Finger and Ron Stainer


“With fish especially, I really like people being able to taste all the ingredients without covering them up with sauces and lots of fats and calories,” says John Finger, the founding partner of Hog Island Oyster Co. who first earned his reputation in the food world as an oyster farmer. An unpretentious seafood restaurant, Hog Island Oyster Co. is built around a buzzing raw bar in the iconic Ferry Plaza Building in downtown San Francisco.

The restaurant, which also has an outpost in Napa Valley, is the standard-bearer for exceptional seafood in the Bay area, where great chefs and Eden-like farmers markets abound. This stew — satisfying, sharply flavored and brimming with beautiful seafood – illustrates why, with delicious effect. Neither cream nor heavy flourishes distract diners from the shellfish’s sweet and briny qualities. With the dish, which chef Ron Stainer invented at the Napa Hog Island, the focus is exactly where it ought to be: on the naturally lean seafood.

Though one can make the recipe year-round using fresh or dried beans and chard leaves, Stainer likes to swap in different varieties of fish depending on the season and what is best at the market. When winter gives way …read more