Cioppino is a grand San Francisco Seafood dish. Cioppino is modeled on the common coastal Italian "Zuppa di Pesca", ("Soup of Seafood"), which is cooked as village specialties all along those ancient coasts, and some of which bore names that came off the tongue sounding like cioppino. San Francisco's fishermen and their families have been Italian, and Portuguese, for generations, and this Cioppino recipe is derived from the old fishing and cooking traditions of these traditionaly seafaring peoples, the restauranteurs of San Francisco, and the stunning variety and quality of seafood that the coastal waters there provide.
Cioppino is another of those recipes that are made in more that one part, and then the parts are added together and cooked a bit more to finish off the dish just before serving. Cioppino consists of a light herbal tomato sauce, a nice fish fumet, and the couple handfuls of the seafood catch of the day. Add all together in a pot, preferably cast iron, and bring the whole thing gently up to a simmer for a couple minutes, drop in a last bit of abulone or squid, and maybe a last dash of Tabasco, then put in big, flat bowls and serve with a loaf of good bread, a clean, sharp salad, and a big bottle of red wine. Cioppino is one of those dishes that you can spend a lot of very pleasant time eating.
TO DO CIOPPINO:
First we do the light tomato sauce base. This quantity is about right for 4 or 5 hungry people. To begin, heat a good sized skillet, and add:
When butter sizzles, add:
fair bit basil, bit of oregano, wad of parsely, all preferably fresh, nice bay leaf, 1/4 tsp fennel seed, a clove, a grind black pepper, a tsp or more of ground red chile.
Saute this around for just a bit till you can smell the spices. Then add:
A good splash white wine, a good dash of Tabasco, and a good shot of both red wine vinegar and Worstershire Sauce.
Toss this around for a small bit, and add:
Five 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce.
Simmer this all up for an hour or two, and reserve. This will keep on the stove for a day or two, and refrigerates well. It will freeze for future reference for up to a couple months.
FISH STOCK, OR FUMET
The second part of the Cioppino is the stock, or fish flavored soup base. To do this, wash a couple pounds of fish bones, a couple fish heads, and a few shrimp, lobster or langostino shells if you have them. Put them into a stock or stew pot, add a couple quarts of water, a chunk of onion, stalk of celery, carrot chopped up, maybe a grind of black pepper or a turnip. Keep this part pretty simple though. Simmer the stock gently a couple hours, strain, cool well and reserve.
For a nice serving of Cioppino you should have a good selection of seafood types. The only good seafood is absolutely fresh seafood, so let what is available best be your guide. You do want a mix of a bit of fish, a few shellfish, maybe a shrimp or two or a nice fat langostino, and maybe a bit of squid, octopus or abulone thrown in a the last moment. For each serving, a typical seafood mix might include any three or four of the below:
TO DO THE CIOPPINO:
In a large pan, for each serving add:
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