Spoonin' some slurpy stuff about the world's drippiest drool

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cioppino (Fisherman's Stew)


I love San Francisco. I love everything about it - the amazing hills, the barking of the sea lions at the wharf, Irish Coffee, fabulous hot chocolate at Giardelli's, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, MOMA, I could go on forever. Ok, maybe one more thing. Cioppino. Invented in San francisco by local fisherman, using their catch of the day. Cioppino comes from the dialect used in Genoa, Italy and means to chop. Italian fishermen settling in San Francisco in the late 1800s developed this wonderful stew as a means to use what was left of their catch.

Any assortment of seafood is fine here - as long as there is plenty! I used halibut, clams, shrimp and scallops. I love crab, and were there company coming it would have been in the pot, but for the three of us I saw no point in dealing with extra utensils to get the crab out of the shell, or the extra cost.

As for the red components of the stew; my mantra - if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it - a good, dry red wine should be used here. I also like to err on the side of too much when it comes to anything tomato - it is hard to find highly flavored tomatoes, so a little extra never hurts!

This particular recipe also calls for a combination of chicken broth and clam juice for cooking liquid. I have still never seen a chicken swimming in the ocean, so there will still be no chicken broth in my seafood stew. Last week I had made seafood broth from clam shells, parsley, garlic etc - it took about 45 minutes, made more than enough for last weeks recipe and the cioppino, so that's what I used.

Finally, I would suggest, wherever possible, to finish this stew with fresh herbs, not dried. There is so much flavor and acid in here that the brightness of fresh parsley and basil will really make a difference.

Oh, and as we sat eating our stew, there was an empty bowl placed in the middle of the table. For what you ask? Why to save the clam shells and shimp shells for the next batch of seafood broth, of course.