“Loaded with fresh seafood in a tomato and wine broth that tastes like the sea, cioppino is a delicious Italian-American fish stew easily made at home” — Paul Ebeling
This dish originated with Italian immigrant fishermen in San Francisco, my favorite version is served at Abalonetti on the Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, CA.
Feel free to experiment with your favorite seafood in this classic San Franciscan fisherman’s stew. And do not forget to use the toasts slathered with zippy gremolata butter to soak up the flavorful broth.
It takes about 1.5hrs to make, my recipe serves 4-6 persons.
3 garlic cloves, divided 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ¾ cup finely chopped onion ½ cup packed sliced fennel ¼ cup finely chopped celery 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black Java pepper ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes ½ pound cleaned squid, bodies sliced into ½-inch rings, tentacles halved lengthwise if large ½ tablespoon tomato paste 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 cup dry white wine 1 15oz can crushed tomatoes 2 bay leaves 1 8oz bottle clam juice 1½ cups seafood stock ½ stick unsalted butter at room temperature 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley ½ teaspoon lemon zest 1 baguette, sliced and toasted 1 pound littleneck clams, soaked in cold water for 1 hr ½ pound medium tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded ½ pound skinless flaky white fish such as bass, halibut, hake, or cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
Mince 2 of the garlic cloves. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, fennel, celery, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 mins. Add the minced garlic and red-pepper flakes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 mins more.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add squid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squid is opaque and tender and the released juices reduce, 15 to 20 mins. Add tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 min.
Add wine, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until cooking liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 7 mins. Add tomatoes with their juice, bay leaves, clam juice, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, 30 mins. Stir in ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the butter, 1 tablespoon parsley, lemon zest, and ¼ teaspoon salt together. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub the cut sides on the toasts. Spread the flavored butter on the toasts.
When ready to serve, heat the pot to medium and add clams, cover, and cook for 3 mins. Stir in the shrimp and mussels. Arrange the fish on top of the stew, cover, and simmer until shellfish opens and fish and shrimp are firm and opaque, about 5 mins more. Discard bay leaves and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons parsley.
Serve cioppino immediately in large soup bowls with gremolata toasts alongside.
Note: Soup base can be made to the point just before adding clams and refrigerated overnight if desired. To serve, reheat the base and add the seafood in the order described above.
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