Cooking: Lazy Cioppino


I really should not call this a cioppino,  It doesn’t have the “bounty of the sea” character of the authentic dish.  Really, what this recipe is, is me digging through my freezer and refrigerator to see what I could make with ingredients on hand.  I had half a boule of sourdough bread, and a tub of shrimp shells that I’d accumulated over many months of cooking.  I also had some frozen prawns and scallops.   And I had some fresh tomatoes and some white wine, and it occurred to me that this was the foundation for a cioppino.  

Cioppino is a tomato-ey seafood stew that comes from Italian and Portuguese fishing communities in San Fransisco.  It should have a wealth of seafood like fish, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab and lobster.  I used what I had on hand.

You’ll need

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes (or about 2-3 fresh roma tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced fine
  • fennel (I didn’t have any, but if you have it, it should be sliced in matchsticks or shaved in thin slivers)
  • garlic
  • a variety of seafood
  • butter
  • olive oil

if you haven’t done so already, dice your onions, carrots, celery and garlicfinely. And if you’re using fresh tomatoes, crush them (or run them through a vegetable grater)

I’ll start with the seafood stock. If you aren’t inclined to make your own, you should be able to buy fish stock from your local fish monger. I had a bunch of shrimp shells and figured that it would make shrimp stock.

  • 2 cups water
  • shrimp shells (about 2 cups of packed shells)
  • fish scraps and bones
  • parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, and other seasonings as desired

heat up a pot with the 2 cups of water over medium heat

once the water boils, I added the shrimp shells to the pot. If you have it, add fish scraps and bones now. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low, add the parsley and thyme, and any other herbs and seasoning that you like, and simmer for another 15-20 minutes.

remove from the heat and strain off and discard the solids, retaining the liquid seafood stock.

fire up a saute pan over medium heat, and sauté the diced carrots, celery and half the onions in butter and olive oil until the onions are translucent.

add the tomatoes to these sautéed aromatic vegetables, stir and transfer the contents of the pan to a soup pot

turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer while we work on the seafood.

pat the shelled prawns and scallops dry

set the sauté pan over medium low heat, and sauté the garlic and the remaining diced onions until the onions are translucent, add the prawns and scallops

add a drizzle of olive oil and saute lightly over medium low heat.

when the shrimp turns from translucent to opaque, and until the scallops develop a little char on the bottom, turn them over and let cook for another 15-20 seconds. Set the shrimp and scallops aside, leaving the onions and garlic in the pan..

if you are adding clams or mussels in the shell, now is the time cook them.

Fire up the pan to high, dump in the clams and mussels and saute for about 3-4 minutes

add the white wine to the pan. If you are cooking clams and mussels in the shell, the steam from the wine will eventually cause the clams and mussels to open up. That means they’re cooked. Add the shrimp stock (or other seafood stock if you have that).

pour the contents of the pan into the tomatoes, mix thoroughly. I didn’t have any fennel on hand, but if I did, I would add it here.

simmer for a minute

serve with toasted sourdough bread.

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