If we were hosting the Christmas holiday at our home, I would be serving this recipe for Cioppino on New Years Eve. For those of you who are not familiar with Cioppino, it is a seafood stew which originated in San Francisco. Years ago when I had roommates, we would invite a few friends over before leaving for the holidays and I’d make a batch of it. It became a tradition that has since been lost. Last week that changed.
Normally we travel over the holidays, split between our families; Thanksgiving on the West Coast and Christmas on the East Coast. I struggle with this every year as I’d like to have a holiday at our home for once. It became even more of a struggle after we bought our first home. This year it became even more apparent than ever that after 11 years together, we do not have any holiday traditions that we cherish and look forward to each year. Being self-employed means we are typically working or traveling up until the very last minute when we are then dashing off to catch a flight back east. No cutting down trees, sipping hot chocolate, hosting holiday parties or stringing lights around the house. After my annual, woe is me which shed a few tears, I decided things would be different this year.
We came home from a long 2 weeks of traveling and declared last week as home for the holidays. We bought a cute little Christmas tree, hung up lights around the house, played Bing Crosby, drank a lot of eggnog and invited a few friends over for a Cioppino dinner. While it was not the ho-ho-ho I still invasion hosting someday, it did cure the holiday blues a bit.
** serve this rich fish stew with warm crusty bread, a Caesar salad and lots of red wine.
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 medium fennel bulb
- 7 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 28 ounces crushed red tomatoes
- 2 cups white wine
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup clam juice
- 1 pound fresh clams or mussels
- 1 1/2 pounds crab, have the fish monger crack for you
- 1 pound calamari
- 1 pound cod, rinse, pat dry and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 pound shrimp
- Using a chopper, chop the onion, fennel and garlic together.
- Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion mixture and cook until soft, about 8 – 10 minutes.
- Add the bay leaves and crushed red pepper. Stir and then season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Still in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the crushed red tomatoes, white wine, water, and clam juice. Stir, then bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a very low simmer, and cover with a lid. Cook for 45 – 60 minutes. The longer the better.
- Add the clams or mussels, shrimp and calamari. Cook over low heat until the shrimp turn pink and the clams/mussels pop open. Add the crab and the cod. Cook for another 6 – 8 minutes, until the cod is cooked.
- Use a chopper to cut up the onion, fennel and garlic. Saves time.
- Do not kill the clams or mussels by keeping them in the plastic bag when bringing home from the market. Lay them in a colander with a cold, wet paper towel draped over the top. Replace if it dries out. DO NOT buy them more then a day before. 30 minutes – 1 hour before adding to your cioppino, clean them before cooking or you will have sand in your cioppino. To clean place them into a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and cold water. Add them to the mixture. Rinse after 30 minutes and repeat for another 30 minutes. Drain and rinse before adding into the cioppino.