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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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