Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cioppino !

It seems that of lately my posts start with an apology on the time lapse between posts, and this one is no different. I am often in awe of fellow bloggers ability to keep blogs lively on a weekly basis, I remind myself that I work 40hrs a week, have two kids under 4 and a family life so its normal if weeks go by without any sign of life, but that does not always ease my anxiety.

Like any good film, there is a behind the scenes shot, blogs are mentally prepared, photos are taken and then ... well then I wait until close to midnight when the guilt is to big to bear and I start typing. For example this particular dish was made in June almost a month to this post.

This particular dish Cioppino originated in San Francisco more precisely in the North Beach area in the late 1800s by Italian fishermen. What goes into a Cioppino ? Well basically whatever is fresh that particular day and is most often a combination of crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, fish etc. The seafood are cooked in a tomato/wine broth and served with hot buttered bread.


This dish has been playing in my mind for years now, and I've never really gotten around to making it. So when we decided to celebrate my father in law's birthday I thought that this was the perfect occasion to try it out.  The weekend we made this, the weather here in Paris was HOT, but as its a light stew where the seafood is the the star we decided to go ahead. It was actually a perfect choice, everyone took their time eating the seafood and the broth just kept everything moist. A good chilled white wine enhanced the meal.

For the stew I used, Scallops, Prawns, Gambas and Cod. The idea is that you use the freshest of seafoods which means that this stew will evolve each time that you make it. For the fish the preference is to use a firm white fish that will not disintegrate during the cooking process. I served this with toasted slices of baguettes rubbed with a garlic clove.

Cioppino   Gourmet | March 2002

San Francisco–Style Seafood Stew
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 1/2 hr
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 (28- to 32-ounces) can whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 (1-pound) king crab leg, thawed if frozen
18 small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams (1 1/2 pound) such as little necks, scrubbed
1 pound skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20), shelled (tails and bottom segment of shells left intact) and deveined
3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Garnish: shredded fresh basil leaves and small whole leaves
 Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
While stew is simmering, hack crab leg through shell into 2- to 3-inch pieces with a large heavy knife. Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.) Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil.

Bon Appétit 
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