Friday, December 4, 2009

Cioppino---Fisherman's Stew

Today started out so gray and rainy, I decided it would be the perfect day to finally make some stock from all the fiddly little bags of shrimp shells I had saved over the past six months and stuck in the freezer. Besides, the natives were getting restless. Complaining that there were so many of those little bags in there that there was no room for important items, like ice cream!

So I dug through and found them all and chucked them in a pot and poured some water over them [about six cups] and set the heat on medium. Meanwhile, I chopped some onions, carrots and celery and added them to the pot, along with a few bay leaves, some peppercorns, some chopped garlic and some leftover tomato paste [about two tablespoons]I had in the fridge. Then I sliced half a lemon into the mixture, stirred it all together and simmered it for about an hour. Half an hour would work, but I had all day!

I turned off the heat, let the mixture cool for a while, then strained it through a sieve and discarded all but the liquid. While it was cooling, I googled "seafood soup" and found this great recipe for Fisherman's Stew, or, if you want to sound very fancy, Cioppino! It was on a site called New Italian Recipes, by a couple of characters calling themselves Aunt Aletha and Dear Old Dave.

Cioppino Ingredients:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 canned or bottled oil cured anchovies, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup diced celery
1 medium to large onion, diced
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
1 cup good rose or red wine
3 T red wine vinegar
1 quart homemade fish or shrimp soup stock
2 cups or more, (depending on how thick and how tomato-y you like it) homemade tomato sauce or a 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped or 2-3 T dried (add to seasoning mix if dried)
Dash or two of Tabasco Sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley
2-3 T fresh lemon juice

Seasoning Mix:

1 T salt
1 T black or mixed whole pepper
2 T dried oregano
1 T fennel seeds [since I hate fennel, I left this out!]
1 T fresh or dried rosemary leave


Just about everything works in Cioppino and Italian fish Stew or Soup recipes, but here are our recommendations:
1/2 lb. medium shrimp (save shells for making seafood stock)
1/2 lb. scallops
24 fresh mussels
1 lb. firm white fish, chopped in 1 inch pieces (cod, catfish, halibut, orange roughy, etc.)
16 fresh clams (optional)
(Fresh or canned oysters can be added if you like them)

Fresh bread of your choice, garlic baked if desired, and lots of it. (The juice is incredible)

Prepare the Cioppino:
Heat olive oil to medium and add anchovies. Add garlic after about 3 minutes.

Add bay leaves, onions, celery and bell pepper plus 1/2 of the seasoning mix. Sauté for 6-8 minutes.

Add wine, vinegar, Tabasco and Worcestershire and reduce by 1/2. Pour in the quart of shrimp stock, then add tomato sauce, basil and rest of the seasoning mix. Simmer about 5 minutes then add the lemon juice.

Add the fish and shellfish, cover and cook about 7 more minutes. Remove any of the mussels and clams that don't open.

Sprinkle the completed Italian fish stew with parsley. Serve with fresh, Italian bread.

This recipe serves four easily.

The Cioppino turned out delicious! I felt so virtuous using oregano, basil, rosemary and even a lemon from our own garden!

I'm not a big fan of anchovies, but they practically melted into the warm olive oil and just blended with the garlic for great flavour. If I hadn't made it myself I wouldn't have guessed there were anchovies in it.....

I used shrimp, scallops, mussels, and catfish, and since it was my first time making it, I stayed pretty much with the letter of the recipe. Didn't go off on any "creative" tangents!

We polished off an entire loaf of fresh Italian bread with the Cioppino. It was a huge hit with the OC, who is not given to superlatives, but I could tell he loved this one. Even when all the seafood is gone the juice is delicious mopped up with the bread.

The fact that I put it on here the same day I first made it is a testament to how good it was! I'll be making this again. It is a little pricey, but if you consider how much you'd pay for a meal like this at a restaurant, it's worth the splurge once in a while.

1 comment:

Warty Mammal said...

You can use the shells to make stock? Fascinating!