I think cioppino, a hearty and flavorful fish stew that takes advantage of Maine’s wonderfully fresh seafood and takes the chill away. With a name like cioppino, you’d think this was an Italian dish, but it actually originated in San Francisco and is not known in Italy. I’m betting though that in areas where seafood is plentiful, there is some variation.
There appear to be a number of ways to make fish stew, and this version which I have created seems to satisfy everyone’s tastebuds. Best of all, the tomato base can be made a day ahead and refrigerated to allow flavors to blend.
1/4 c. olive oil + 2 T. butter
1 c. finely chopped onion + 1 c. chopped pepper, any color will do
1 t. minced garlic
1 lb. fresh mushrooms cut in half
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes + 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 c. dry white wine
2 8 oz. bottles clam juice
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 T. chopped parsley
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. each basil, salat and pepper
1 T. sugar
Heat oil and butter in large Dutch oven. Ann onion, pepper, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until onions are limp, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, heat to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
1/2 hour before serving, reheat tomato mixture and add 1 1/2 lbs. cubed fish (swordfish, halibut, sea bass, cod, haddock) and cook until fish is flaky, usually 10-15 minutes. Add 1 lb. medium shrimp (peeled and deveined), 1/2 lb. scallops, 1/2 lb. crabmeat and a dozen mussels. Cover and simmer over low heat until mussels open, about 10 minutes.
This makes about 6 hearty servings and requires about an hour to prepare. All that is needed with it is a crusty bread and a green salad, one as simple as mixed greens with sea salt and fresh lemon juice. Your family or guests are going to be very happy with your effort.
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