“From the "Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook" comes this seafood dish which is served at various colonial taverns on the site, including Christiana Campbell's. "In this recipe from the Barrier Islands, tomatoes and aromatic vegetables are stewed with seafood." The term "muddle" came from the early settlers and refers to a "mess of fish."”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces canned tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 cups fish stock (fish stock preferred, clam juice can be somewhat salty) or 6 cups bottled clam juice (fish stock preferred, clam juice can be somewhat salty)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch saffron thread
  • 12 small clams, scrubbed, preferably Little Necks
  • 1 lb lean fish such as cod, flounder, bass or 1 lb red snapper, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 12 lb medium shrimp, shelled, de-veined, and halved
  • 12 small mussels, rinsed and beards removed
  • 14 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large kettle or soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes; add the garlic, stir, and sauté 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and potatoes, stir; reduce the heat to medium low then cover and simmer until the potatoes are just softened, about 10 minutes (make sure to check it to make sure it doesn't scorch, you can add a few tablespoons of fish stock to keep it safe).
  4. Add the fish stock, increase the temperature to high, and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the saffron and simmer until the potatoes are cooked completely through, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add the scrubbed clams and cook until they begin to open, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the fish, shrimp, and mussels and cook until the shrimp is pink and the mussels are opened, about 10 minutes.
  8. Discard any clams or mussels which did not fully open, check seasoning and adjust as necessary (with salt and pepper).
  9. Serve hot in warmed bowls, garnished with chopped parsley.
  10. Note: if you don't have saffron, you can leave it out - but it's more authentic with it.
  11. Also, for a good fish stock, check White Wine Fish Stock recipe #51186.

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