I totally love CIOPPINO! Exploring and discovering restaurants that offer cioppino is one of my favorite past times. So this all starts out with Jim and I discussing what we are craving....while sitting out on our patio looking out at the lake. In fact, Jim's birthday was approaching soon. So I asked Jim what are you CRAVING for your birthday this year! We always do the steak and potatoes thingy....but what if we do something different, I thought. So I asked him. Jim turned to me while lounging in our Adirondack chairs and said, "Paella!" I said, "Say....what?" I thought where did that come from. Jim continued to say, "but I don't want all that rice, so can you make it without rice?" Ahhhhh! What he really wanted was CIOPPINO with a paella twist. Oh boy, add a little chorizo, saffron, smoked paprika.....here we go!
Before making the your Cioppino, you will need to prepare the following:
Make the fish stock and set aside. If you do not have the time to make it from scratch then any good quality premade fish stock will do.
Purchase your seafood either that day or day before. I always pack the mussels, clams, fish in a bowl with ice if you have purchased it the day before.
Prepare shrimp, peeled and deveined and butterflied. Put in a separate bowl, pour olive oil (1 - 2 tablespoons) over the shrimp. Sprinkle smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, and black pepper.
When you chop up the fennel bulb, save the fennel fronds to use as garnish. Set aside.
Prepare your toasted Baguette Bread before you start the Cioppino. So when you have finished adding the chorizo or sausage, put the bread in the oven.
Homemade Fish Stock
3 - 4 Fish throats or Fish parts. Note: this usually possible if you fish and keep fish parts. I freeze them when we are cleaning the fish for future use.
1 Ham hock
1 onion loosely chopped
Juniper berries 5
Black, white, green, red peppercorns (sprinkle amount to your taste)
Fresh herbs oregano rosemary thyme (see picture below)
5 - 6 Garlic cloves fresh crushed
1 cup white wine
2 Bay leaves
1 tablespoon Fennel seed or Fennel Bulb
1 teaspoon Celery seed
1 Carrot, largely chopped
Anise pod optional
Saute the fish parts and ham hock with olive oil until browned. Add the onion and garlic. Sear with the white wine. Add all the other ingredients with 8 cups of water. Slowly simmer the fish stock for several hours.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 can of San Marzano tomatoes peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 - 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
1 pinch of good quality saffron
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups fish stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound chorizo (Spanish style) or venison link sausage, diced.
1 pound manila clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as red fish halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunks
Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
While the cioppino is cooking, saute the chorizo or venison sausage until nicely browned. Deglaze with 1/2 cup of white wine or just enough to get all the browned pieces off of the skillet. Add the meat to the simmering Cioppino.
Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
After you have added the seafood, begin the process of quick saute the shrimp which you have set aside marinating with spices and olive oil. Take a skillet or wok pan (what I use) to a high heat. Once hot, add the shrimp to the skillet and cook about 2 minutes on each side. The shrimp should be nicely browned and ready to be plated when the Cioppino is ready to serve.
Serving the Cioppiono
When you are ready to serve the amazing Cioppino, you will start out with spooning the Cioppino stew in each bowl. Arrange the mussels and clams to make sure each serving has a fair amount of seafood. Place several cooked shrimp on each bowl and then sprinkle the chopped fennel fronds as garnish.
Toasted Baguette Bread
Pre-heat oven at 400 degrees
Slice fresh baguette loaf
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place sliced bread
Brush with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper
Place the cookie sheet with the bread slices in oven for about 8-10 minutes or toasted.