Cioppino

I had neither made, nor eaten cioppino before last night. I didn’t know how it should taste or anything about it really. Mandi and I wanted some fish this weekend and couldn’t decide which, so instead of deciding, we just got a bunch of different fish and put them all in a stew together. We took a few different ciopinno recipes and formed our own. I can not vouch for the authenticity of this stew, because no one had had it before, but the final taste was really really great. It’s also fairly healthy and can be made in under an hour. The only real complaint I have was that it was really expensive. Back in the day, this used to be a dish of the people, made with leftovers of the daily catch. These days, decent fish has become so expensive that it isn’t feasible to make this often.

I had some chicken stock in the freezer, so I added this with the water just to add a depth of flavor.

This is some odds and ends in with water and chicken stock to make a light broth for the soup. The core of the fennel, stems from the parsley, etc.

This is only the second time I have used fresh shrimp. A lot of times on food network the host will say that they only buy shrimp cleaned already because it is a big mess. It’s that mentality and way of talking that discouraged me and probably many other viewers from using fresh shrimp in the past! It’s really easy to shell and devein these guys. Head-on shrimp are another story entirely, because the head actually causes the rest of the shrimp to break down more rapidly than if the head was removed.

Just cut down the back with scissors all the way to the tail. Then peel off the shell. When the shell is off, cut down the middle looking for the vein. Only 2 out of 7 of these shrimp actually had a vein.

This was Mandi’s method, just cut through the bottom and peel that way.

Get those shells in the stock.

We also put some juice from the crab container into the stock.

This simmered for about a half hour while we prepped the rest of the ingredients.

Some toasted fennel seed and thyme.

We started with hot olive oil and added fennel and onions, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. After 7 minutes, I added tomato paste.

Then strained the stock in.

I added 2 cups of water and 2 cups of wine.

A pinch of saffron.

Whoops! I forgot the garlic earlier! No worries, just put it in a pan with some oil for 2 minutes, and then dump it into the stew.

Rockfish.

Squid

Add all this before you start adding the fish.

The rockfish and scallops we seared before dropping in the soup. Everything else we just added one by one according to cooking time. In order we went rockfish, scallops, shrimp, squid tenticles, squid hoods. After adding the hoods, shut the heat right off. They only need to cook about 1 minute or they will get chewy.

Oh, the crab went in at some point too, but it is already cooked so it doesn’t really matter when

Scrape some of the good stuff from the pan into the stew.

Toasted sourdough is really key for this soup.

A lot of times when you see this soup, it is a big bowl with shells and claws sticking out. Honestly, mussels and clams are Mandi and I’s least favorite types of seafood. Also, we both like our food ready to eat for the most part, rather than having to pick through shells and bones and whatnot. I guess you could call this lazy mans cioppino

I’m normally a summer fish guy. I like it grilled and light with lemon and lime flavors. This soup is a hearty and warming cold weather meal that uses fish in a way that is totally different from what I normally like. And I loved it!

This is a pretty easy and straightforward recipe. Start by making the veggie stock with the slight fish flavor. Just put some onions, garlic, fennel, parsley, salt, pepper, and fennel seed into a pot. Fill with water. Add some shrimp shells. Add a bone from salmon or swordfish if you have one. Add a little chicken or veggie stock (homemade or store bought) if you want to boost the flavors a little, but don’t add much! Simmer this for at least a half hour. If you want to skip this step completely, just mix store bought chicken or veggie stock with equal parts water. Add the shrimp shells or fish bone if you have them. Bring it to a boil so it is hot when it is time to add to the stew pot. You need about 4 cups of this liquid in the end.

Next sauté diced onion and fennel in a large pot for 7 minutes. Add garlic and then 2 min later add tomato paste. Stir for 5 minutes. Pour in 28 oz can of tomatoes. Next pour in your stock mixture. Add 2 cups of white wine. Taste this and possibly thin it out with a bit more water to your tastes. The stock should be mild so you can still taste the delicate fish flavors. Also a lot of herbs have to still go in. Add a loose tablespoon of saffron (we just added the single serving package you can buy at the store). Prep all the fish and herbs while the soup boils together for 20 minutes. Add a ¼ cup each of chopped basil, oregano, chives, fennel frawns (the top thin green leaf parts), and toasted fennel seed/thyme mixture. Next add the fish one by one according to cooking time. Sear the meaty fish and the scallops before adding. Our order was rockfish, scallops, shrimp, squid tenticles, squid hoods, crab(already cooked) and shut the heat right off. The squid only needs 1 minute to cook or it will become chewey. Finish off with some orange zest and juice. From one orange. Serve with toasted piece of sourdough.