The Brit and I : We have never been Valentine’s day people. Of our 4+ years together, we have yet to do anything for the day (minus move to San Francisco last winter in the rain!) on the day. Nowadays, it’s a bit of a tradition (and a nice one!) to just “do our own thing” on February 14th, and partake in couple oriented activities later in the month (saves us a bit of $ as well – yay) .
This year, it ended up to be a special day anyway, without even intending to! Well, actually, I did intend to give the Brit a ridiculous card, and he apparently did intend to give me some lovely flowers, which he arranged all by himself (he’s quite handy like that). But no. These were not the reasons for the day ending so splendidly. It was having our neighbors over to serve them their first taste of Cioppino (shame shame on them! they moved here last summer!) a beautiful flourless chocolate cake courtesy of Joanne Harris & Fran Warde (from My French Kitchen, a book I would be quite sad without), and some scrumptious Vino from our local shop Terroir.
Everything was an utter success, and its been great getting to know other food driven youngsters such as ourselves. And, yes, they loved the Cioppino. Which is what I want to share with everyone today. We kind of combined a whole bunch recipes to get to our favorite keeper mix, which is what is below. The keys to success: we used (and now only use) San Marzano canned tomatoes, and we made our own fish stock (which is actually much more simple than you’d imagine). Give it a go, and share your thoughts! Cioppino is wonderful because its adaptable, and that includes this recipe.
- 1/2 Pound cleaned Squid (cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 12 to 16 oz fresh shrimp, deveined, shells set aside for stock, tails intact
- 12 to 16 Mussels, cleaned
- 12 to 16 Little Neck Clams, cleaned
- 1/2 lb firm White Fish (we used local Red Snapper) cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 lb Dungeness Crab (its in season in San Francisco!) once shelled and cleaned
- 1 whole Dungeness Crab, cleaned, and separated into one leg pieces
- 1 28oz Can Whole San Marzano Tomatoes
- 2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Medium Yellow Unions, chopped rough
- 2 sticks Celery, chopped rough
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped rough
- 1 handful chopped Parsley
- 1 handful chopped Basil
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1/2 cup small Green Olives, preferably with pits, and Italian
- 1/4 cup Capers
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp fresh Ground Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Red Chili Flakes
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Seafood Stock (preferably home-made)
Place two tbsp olive oil in stew pot over medium high heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic, season, and cook for 1 to three minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add the red bell pepper and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add can of tomatoes, bay leaf, capers, olives, red chili flakes, and stock.
Bring to the boil, turn the heat to medium, and add the separated Dungeness Crab pieces, and pre-cleaned meat. Once boiling, turn heat to medium-low and stew for 15 to twenty minutes, to allow flavors to deepen. Add squid, shrimp, fish, mussels, clams, and 1/2 of the parsley and basil. Stew for 3 to 5 minutes (beware not to overcook the squid or shellfish, for they will become rubbery). Serve immediately, and top each bowl with fresh chopped parsley and basil, and a lovely crusty, warm out of the oven bread (our favorite so as to not take away from the flavor of the stew is a scrumptious sourdough batard).
Serves 4-6, depending