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Making Cioppino (or "also, maybe this is Cacciucco but either way it's delicious fish stew")

One of my family's favorite dishes is Cioppino. It's an Itanlian seafood stew that originated in San Francisco, and is very similar to Cacciucco. My recipe is somewhere between the two, but I live near San Francisco so I'm going to call it Cioppino. Fight me.

Side note, this was originally Posted on Twitter about a week ago.

Anyway, let’s make Cioppino!

Ingredients

  • 1 onion (anything other than vidalia, they're too sweet), juliened
  • 1 carrot, juliened
  • 2 celery stalks, juliened
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley tops
  • 2 cups red wine (merlot, cabernet, pino noir, anything full flavored.)
  • 4-5 cups of diced roma tomatoes (seeds are fine if you don't want to remove them, you can also leave the skin on, or blanch them if you prefer)
  • 4-8 cups of fish or seafood stock.
  • ½-1 pound of Little neck clams or mussels
  • 1 pound of cod or other fish, shrimp, crab, squid, scallops or any other seafood. More is good too.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, grape must optional
  • 1 baguette
  • freshly grated paremsan
  • olive oil

Directions

To begin, please note nothing in this recipe needs to be exact. Varying the amounts is totally fine and will of course vary the taste. But I promise it will be tasty.

In a large pot (I use a 4qt stock pot) saute carrots in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, adding onion and celery after the carrots have begun to soften.

Veggies in the pot

Once the vegetables have softened and onions are somewhat translucent, add the thyme, bay leaves and parsely and saute for a few more minutes until fragrant.

Add the red wine, and cook for 5-10 minutes until it looks delicious like this.

Wine pouring into a pot

Now it's time to add the roma tomatoes.

Tomatoes added to the pot

Cook everything until the tomatoes have softened well.

Everything is cooked and soft

Add the stock - depending on how thick you want the soup to be determines how much stock you add. In this case I added 8 cups, because 4 didn't seem like enough. Then 6 didn't seem like enough.

Seafood stock pouring into the pot

Keep everything on heat, but don't bring it to a boil, just let it simmer.

If you like it thicker, and a bit richer you can add some tomato paste or a can of diced tomatos. Sun-dried tomatoes diced are also good, and grape must (the jar in the pic) adds a ton of richness.

Sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste and grape must

At this point the smell in your kitchen is going to make you very hungry. It should look something like this.

Let it cook on low. We don't want the flavors to evaporate, we just want everything to break down some more and get oh so tasty. Stir it sometimes.

Now you can leave this covered on low for a couple of hours if you need to - you can make it at lunch time, and then the rest of the dinner comes together pretty quick.

Take your clams (normally I would have clams and mussels but I could only find clams today) and rinse them multiple times under water, and leave them in a post of cold water.

Little neck clams in a pot with water running over them

While those are sitting there thinking about how they got themselves into this mess, get your baguette and slice it on the bias.

A baguette from Sumano's Bakery in it's bagThe baguette, sliced

Now for the fish! I like white flaky rockfish, any type of cod is great. If you can get it, try some mahi mahi or swordfish if you like a denser, meatier fish. I bought this fish at Costco. I'm not using all of it today, geez.

A large quantity of packaged fish

So this time we're going to have the rockfish, scallops and little neck clams. You can add literally any seafood and it will be great. This dish being from San Francscio classically has dungeness crab, but I've somehow never made it with that. All seafood is good seafood though!

Cut the fish and any other seafood into 2" pieces. You want it chunky. You don't want seafood bits. This is a hearty meal! Don't add them right now though, you want to sear/fry the bread first.

Keep in mind cooking times - none of the seafood needs to be in the pot for long, in fact you can add the broth to the dish and put the raw seafood right in the bowl, covering it with the broth of course, and it'll turn out great.

Fish cut into chunks, with scallops and clams in a bowl.

You'll want to pull a skillet out for the clams in a minute. This is all about to come together fast.

Drizzle olive oil on a griddle or cast iron skillet. We're going to stich the baguette slices in it shortly. Heat it up!

Cast iron skillet with olive oil drizzled on it. Maybe too much in some places but it doesn't really matter

Try not to eat all of the bread.

Eric eating bread.

Stick some butter in the other skillet. it likes butter.

Heat that up, and pour some stock in it, or preferrably white wine. I'm using fish stock because I forgot to buy white wine.

Stock pouring in the skillet with butter.

Throw all the bread on the griddle once the oil just starts to smoke.

Bread covering the griddle

Pepper the clam skillet.

Drizzle more olive oil on top of the bread.

We're basically frying the bread in olive oil. Yes it's delicious. You want to keep going until the bottom is nice and brown, then flip them over. I burnt a few, but it's ok. I like burnt ones.

Toasted bread on the griddle. 4 have burnt spots. I apologized to them

Now coat them in freshly grated parmesan cheese. I also added some artichoke bruchetta that we bought. it's tasty. Now toast the top.

Bread in an oven coved in cheese. Everything is good if its covered in cheese.

It's time to toss all the seafood into the pot.

cutting board with seafood in it being poured into a pot.

While those are cooking, let's cook the clams! Cook them on medium high. You can put a cover on it if you like.

Wait until the clams open. If some just don't want to open, they're not good. Throw them out.

Cooked clams in a skillet

So here's how it comes together. Everything in the bowl, go eat!

Two bowls full of cioppino, with the bread on a separate plate all sitting on a wooden cutting board.A closeup of one of the bowls of cioppino

I hope you enjoyed this, I thoroughly enjoy making and eating this dish.

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Yosemite is Beautiful (or "How We Were Stupid and Hadn't Visited Yosemite Until Now")

My wife and I went to Yosemite for a 3 day vacation this past weekend and I can't believe we've lived in California for 11 years and hadn't visted yet. It's every adjective that you would guess it is - Majestic. Grand. Awe-Inspiring. Marvelous. Huge. Impressive. Fantastic.

Yosemite Valley as seen from Tunnel View. Canon 6D Mk II 42mm 𝑓/4 1/6000 ISO 100
Yosemite Valley as seen from Tunnel View.
Canon 6D Mk II 42mm 𝑓/4 1/6000 ISO 100

I was pleased to see pretty much everyone wearing masks and being very pandemic-friendly. That's not to say there went a bunch of people -- there absolutely were, but everyone was playing by the rules really well.

This was essentially a first-pass scouting mission. We went on only one hike, a small one, to Lower Yosemite Falls and investigated everything in Yosemite Valley to find out where we'd like to camp, hike, take photos and generally relax on what I can only imagine will be our many visits in the future.

Lower Yosemite Falls with a rainbow. Canon 6D Mk II 35mm 𝑓/8 1/320 ISO 100
Lower Yosemite Falls with a rainbow.
Canon 6D Mk II 35mm 𝑓/8 1/320 ISO 100
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Arecibo

The news of the collapse of the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico wasn't a surprise to many. Over the past decade or so it has become inceasingly damaged from the high winds of many hurricanes. I personally, however, always assumed that it would be repaired and life would move on. It had even secured additional funding to continue operating through 2024. Because of the continued deterioration when I read that it collapsed I wasn't completely surprised by that. What I was surprised by was the lack of attention that has been paid to the telescope for over a decade. It feels like a harbinger for the state of science focus in the US, and that is also sadly not surprising. Lets hope that my fear is unfounded.

A colorized image of The Arecibo Message
The Arecibo Message, sent via the Arecibo Radio Telescope in 1974 to the globular cluster Messier 13
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Eight Technologies: Did They Change the World?

Eighteen years ago I wrote a blog post about an article in Business 2.0 that I read, entitled Eight Technologies That Will Change the World. I thought sufficient time has passed, and it would be interesting to revisit this article and see how things have changed.

Biointeractive Materials

The big idea: High-tech sensors for living systems

Technology in this area hasn't moved forward much, at least for materials embedded into living beings. However, wearables have become the quickly evolving area where biointeractivity has come into play. Beginning with digital devices keeping track of our steps (there were many non-digital versions for decades before), to wearables keeping track of our location, heartrate, EKG... and with the announcement of Apple Watch Series 6, our blood oxygen levels this technology is now advancing at a break-neck speed.

It may not be the embedded devices we were all imagining, but these devices are monitoring us in real time.

Biofuel Production Plants

The big idea: Replacing oil with fuels from genetically engineered crops

The biofuel space has continued to grow considerably over the past 18 years, with multiple types of diesel fuel, ethanol and other alcohol fuels being produced. Most of us are probably driving with ethanol in our tanks, at least partially (around 10% in most places in the United States), and because of this it is likely the most popular biofuel. This popularity is in part of the US Government's subsidy of corn production, making ethanol very cheap to produce.

Bionics

The big idea: Artificial systems to replace lost or disabled body parts

Bionics may be the are that has had the most profound advancement. We now have fully functional artificial hearts, cochlear implant devices, and of course biomenchanical replacements for arms and legs. Some of these even controlled in part my the brain.

There are many more advancements in progress such as silicon-based retinas, red blood cells, stem cells and other tissues.

Cognitronics

The big idea: Computer-aided telekinesis

Up until a couple of years ago, and then more info a few weeks ago, I would have said cognitronics hasn't moved at all, but then Elon Musk announced Neuralink. Prior to this there had been research of course, but none so public or definitive as this.

Combinatorial Science

The big idea: Combining statistical analysis and massive computing power to cut research time

This is one area that there have been massive leaps in. Between computation power continuing to increase at the speed Moore predicted, and the advancement in managing what we now call "Big data", data analysis capabilities have exponentially increased in the past 18 years.

Genotyping

The big idea: Classifying people based on their genetics

Genotyping, as everyone is probably aware, is well developed an commonplace at this point. 23 and Me certainly popularized personal DNA testing, and with the 2019 holiday season, ancestry.com spread it even further. Both companies (and others) can reveal lots of information about your ancestry as well as health issues that you may have based on your genome. This data is not always 100% accurate, but the accuracy will increase over time.

Molecular Manufacturing

The big idea: Building complex structures, atom by atom

The idea of nanorobots was all the rage in the 1990s popular culture, and there has been some continued research in that area as well. However there hasn't been any substantial advances, although nature itself invented walking protiens long ago.

Quantum Nucleonics

The big idea: A portable, safe, nonpolluting source of nuclear power

This is another pie-in-the-sky technology that has never made it out of the research phase, although it certainly makes for an interesting read, and should really be the base for a sci-fi book (I imagine it probably is already)

I hope you enjoyed a little stroll through memory lane. Technology always advances at a snails pace, and at break-neck speed at the same time.

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Goodbye Aaron Swartz.

About 13 years ago or so I logged onto IRC (as I had many times before), and found a group of guys in a room that I felt like I fit into. Aaron Swartz was one of those guys. I was fairly active there for a couple years, but as jobs and priorities changed I wasn't able to socialize there as often as I might otherwise have wanted. Aaron, although young, was brilliant. His insight into the inner workings of the mind, and politics specifically was simple and smart. He made quite an impression on me, which is why I (to this day) host one of the mirrors of http://web.resource.org. I felt it was something I had the resources to supply in his quest for freedom of all sorts.

I never met him in person. I hadn't talked to him in years, except for the occasional pleasantry, yet I saw him excel in the thing he was great in - fighting to keep things free that should be free, whether it was technical specifications, democracy, or publicly funded journals. He was quite amazing at these things.

I always felt that his interests and activities should be important to everyone. I always struggled with being active in those things myself because I felt the importance, but life always seemed to get in the way. I did what I could.

Aaron committed suicide today. We might not ever know the reason why, although many of us will suspect. He will certainly be missed long into the future, and will hopefully be remembered as a person that fought for freedom.

I'm really unsure why I'm writing this except that this seemed the most appropriate place (more that 140 characters, and published in RSS especially), and there is some cathartic feeling.

Aaron was a star that shone very brightly. I regret that I didn't know him more. Maybe I could have helped in the end, but who knows.

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