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Cioppino

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Shutterstock

Cioppino is a specialty of Genoans in San Francisco, and it’s a riotous stew of all kinds of seafood cooked with vegetables, wine, and tomatoes (much like a bouillabaisse). My Uncle Jim makes it every year as soon as Dungeness crab comes into season in mid-November (the season lasts through May on the West Coast) and is readily available.

Equipment: 4-quart slow cooker

Use any combination of small cleaned whole fish such as smelts and sardines; filletted larger white-fleshed fish such as porgies, roughy, sea bass, or red snapper; Dungeness, snow, or king crab legs (thawed if frozen, and chopped into 2-inch lengths with a cleaver); scrubbed mussels and clams; and cleaned and sliced small squid and octopus.

Making Fish Stock

Ask your fishmonger to give you the fish heads and other trimmings after he or she cleans whole fish for you (or clean your own and save the trimmings). To make a quick fish stock, put the trimmings in a medium saucepan of water, along with 1 roughly chopped celery rib, 1 roughly chopped carrot, ½ onion, and a few peppercorns. Simmer, skimming the foam from the surface once or twice, for 30 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup.

Serves6

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostSplurge

Total Timehalf-day

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturesalty, savory

Type of Dishfish soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 minced, 1 cut in half
  • 2 dried hot chiles, stems removed, crumbled
  • 4 anchovy fillets, drained and minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1½ cups fish stock (see Tip)
  • ½ (28-ounce) can peeled plum tomatoes, drained, seeded, and diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • About 5 pounds cleaned fish and shellfish (see Note)
  • Salt
  • 1 baguette

Instructions

  1. In a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the carrot, celery, onion, shallot, minced garlic, chiles, and anchovies and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is beginning to soften but not brown, about 6 minutes. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil; cook until the wine is reduced by half, then scrape the vegetable mixture into a 4- quart slow cooker. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, and tomato paste, and add the bay leaf and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, covered, on the low setting for 3 to 4 hours, until the carrot and celery are soft.

  2. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper as necessary. Arrange the fish and shellfish over the tomato stew (put squid and octopus [if using] in first, then whole fish and fillets, then crab legs and shellfish), turn the cooker to the high setting, and cook, covered, without lifting the lid, for 30 minutes, or until the shellfish shells open (discard any clams or mussels that do not open after 30 minutes) and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the baguette into 3-inch lengths and split each in half horizontally. Brush the cut sides with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and rub with the cut sides of the halved garlic clove. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp.

  4. Ladle the stew into shallow bowls and serve with the toasted baguette on the side.

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