Cioppino served with a sourdough toast
Cioppino (Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups fish stock
1 bay leaf
1 pound manila clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunks
Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
Ever since I had a very lovely lobster Cioppino at our wedding anniversary dinner last year, I’ve not stopped thinking about the dish. I tried ordering it again at a pub a few months ago, and boy, was it a disappointment. After a really stressful day at work, I really wanted to eat the dish again and decided to make it myself. Because it was a after-work decision, I had to take some liberties with the recipe. I didn’t use any mussels, or fish stock, and I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones (it’s tomato season, y’all!). Instead of white wine, I used masala wine. To get a “fishier” taste, I threw in a slice of dried abalone (every Chinese kitchen has that) and I think it made it better, but nothing beats lobster, prawn stock.
It turned out pretty good, hearty and perfect for a cool late summer evening. The husband gave it 7/10. Perhaps next time I will add prawn or lobster stock.
But I’ll definitely be making this dish quite often, especially when it gets colder.