Happy Valentines Day tomorrow! I meant to give you this succulent Cioppino earlier in case you were looking for a special dinner inspiration, but better now than never. You’ll want to save this recipe for your seafood-loving friends and family; they’ll be hard pressed to find a dinner as enjoyable as this intensely mouthwatering seafood stew. Your peeps will adore you for cooking up this Cioppino for any special dinner.
I’ve been a seafood fan all my life. My parents are adept at dishing up delicious sea fare, and living near the ocean most of my life sure didn’t hurt our fresh seafood consumption. If you enjoy seafood, you already know there are very few things that parallel the awesomeness of a deeply satisfying bowl of good Cioppino.
We were previously under the assumption that Cioppino originated in Italy, which I gather is a common assumption. In reality, Cioppino is considered Italian-American, as it was originated in good ol’ San Fransisco. Cioppino is a concoction that resulted from fishermen combining their catches, creating a hearty stew with whatever good stuff was in their boats. Catch-of-the-day stew.
I personally am supremely thankful for those fishermen who helped propel this wonderfully hearty, satisfying, and healthy stew. It’s the perfect solution for cold weather dinners, and scrumptiously satisfying with crusty bread. The bread is a must-have, for soaking up every drop of the light yet full-flavored broth that’s way too delectable to be wasted.
I’ve eaten Cioppino in many places, and it’s always made a little differently, depending on where you get it at. Typically, there is a variety of shelled seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, etc.) combined with chunks of firm fish. All swimming in an indescribably delicious warm broth. If you can’t get certain shellfish but can get a hold of others, just sub with what is available to you. Keep the shells on for cooking, as that is what lends the broth its amazing flavor.
Make it a date for two, or a dinner for eight. My fave part – this phenomenal broth can be made the day before, and just add seafood the day of. Enjoy!
RECIPE (about 6 servings)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup light olive oil
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
2 TB tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 can (28-32 oz) can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped. Juices reserved.
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken or fish broth
2 TB white sugar
20 hard shelled clams
20 shelled mussels
1 lb firm fish (ie., halibut, snapper, or salmon)
1 lb very large shrimp (16-20 count-size), deveined, shell-on
1 lb large sea scallops, muscles removed from side if attached
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, freshly chopped
Crusty bread for serving
Place first seven ingredients in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over moderate heat. Cook until onions are soft, 5 min. Stir in celery, bell pepper, and tomato paste, cooking 1 min. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5-6 min. Stir in tomatoes, their juices, claim juice, broth, and sugar. Simmer covered 30 min. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
(At this point, broth may be cooled and placed in fridge overnight. When ready to serve, just bring broth back to simmer and continue with recipe.)
If ready to serve: Bring stew to simmer. Add clams and mussels until shells just open, checking every minute and transferring opened clams/mussels to a separate bowl with tongs immediately when they open. Remaining unopened shellfish should be tossed out. Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt/pepper. Add them to the stew and simmer covered 3 minutes or just until shrimp turns opaque. If shrimp turns opaque before the fish is done, remove shrimp to prevent overcooking.
Turn off heat and leave uncovered. Discard bay leaves. Return all cooked shellfish back into the stew. Add parsley. Serve warm stew in bowls, garnishing with fresh basil. Serve with crusty bread.
By: Chew Out Loud, adapted by Gourmet
Wine Pairing: A good quality dry Sauvignon Blanc or crisp Rose will go beautifully here.
Notes: Feel free to use whatever fresh/good quality seafood is available to you. Many people like to include crab legs. The most important thing is not to overcook the seafood. If I have any leftovers, sometimes I pour it over al dente pasta the next day… amazing.