Sunday, March 21, 2010


So I thought I was getting better, but I was wrong.  Yesterday, my cough decided to mutate, turning into some sort of infection - my throat is currently swollen up so much (think X-Men villain Mojo) that it's hard to swallow.  I spent the day lounging the house, hanging out with my friend Nick (Calypso to those who have met him at Food Blogger happy hours).  Given my pitiful state, I decided to try to cheer myself up by making cioppino, a fish stew for which San Francisco is famous.  The rich broth of the cioppino soothed my throat and made my stomach very happy.  I also now have enough leftovers to feed myself for a few days without having to leave the house, so I don't have to change out of my pajamas anytime in the immediate future.

Click below to get the recipe!

List of ingredients for the cioppino:
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 tsp. salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups seafood stock
1 bay leaf
1 lb. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 lb. uncooked large shrimp
1 1/2 lb. halibut

First, I prepped the vegetables.  Using my mandoline, I sliced up the fennel relatively thin.

I also chopped up (pretty finely) the onion and the shallot.  The use of two different kind of onions confused me the first time I made this recipe, but, along with the mellowed licorice taste from the fennel, it adds a depth of flavor I don't find in other cioppino recipes.  That Giada really knows her stuff!

I heated the oil in a very large pot over medium heat, then added the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauteed until the onion was translucent, about 10 minutes.

I threw in the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauteed 2 minutes.  I doubled the amount of red pepper flakes, because I like a little heat in the broth.

Next, I added the tomato paste. Again, I used twice as much as the recipe calls for, because I wanted the broth very thick.  I added the diced tomatoes (juices and all), wine, fish stock and bay leaf, covered and brought to a simmer, and cooked about 40 minutes.

I then added the mussels, covered and cooked until the mussels began to open, about 5 minutes. 

In the meanwhile, I prepped the rest of the seafood.  I cut the halibut (one of my favorite kinds of fish) into big hearty chunks.  You could use any type of white fish, but I like halibut because it's firm enough to hold together in the stew.

I also peeled and deveined the shrimp.  To devein shrimp, I just ran my knife along the back of each shrimp, exposing the black vein (it's really the gastrointestinal tract of the shrimp), which I then pulled out.

I added the shrimp and halibut to the stew and simmered about 5 minutes longer, just until the seafood became opaque.

I seasoned the soup, to taste, and served with some crusty French bread.  While I usually make this stew in the winter, it was exactly what my poor, sick-ravaged body needed.   And the stew tastes even better the next day, when the flavors have really had a chance to meld.  I'm still feeling sick, but at least I have this cioppino to look forward to eating tonight!

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