Tomato Sauce Base:
Heat a large saucepan and add olive oil and anchovies. Stir anchovies into hot oil to dissolve. Add onions, celery and carrots and begin to cook until they begin to brown. Add basil leaves, garlic and chili flakes and sweat to release their aromas. Add sachet and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes until vegetables are tender enough to easily crush with a fork. Remove sachet and pass sauce through a fine food mill. Reserve for Cioppino Base.
Combine wines and saffron. Reduce wine by half. Add fish stock and tomato sauce, bring to a simmer to combine flavors. Check seasoning. Adjust if necessary.
Place Cioppino Base.in a large straight-sided pot. Heat to just below a simmer. Add fish, clams, mussels, crab and shrimp tails to pot. Cover and steam/poach briefly to cook and heat through each item. Clams and mussels should be now open; fish and shrimp should turn opaque. Add calamari for the last minute of cooking. Discard any clams or mussels that do not have beautiful plump meats.
Heat about 6 inches of oil to 365 degrees F. Clean back apron of shrimp head and clean inside tail end of head. Dredge shrimp heads in potato starch lightly and fry 3 minutes until very crisp and golden. Drain briefly, split in 2 and season with salt and pepper. Hold warm for service.
Spicy Shrimp Rouille:
Soak bread cubes in fish broth and place all ingredients except oil in blender. Puree ingredients into a paste. Pour in the oil slowly, while blending, to make a thick fluffy mayonnaise sauce.
Rub bread with cut garlic clove and brush with melted butter and olive oil. Sprinkle with
parsley, salt and pepper and toast to golden brown in oven or toaster oven.
Ladle Cioppino sauce into hot serving dishes. Arrange fish items on each dish from the back of the dish to the front. Lean crostini against 2 pieces of sea bass. Arrange 3 split fried shrimp heads against crostini and face forward and upright. Add 1 mussel shell and mussel meats, and 1 clam shell and clam meats. Add peeled shrimp tails, last piece of fish, calamari and peeled crab legs. Top with chopped parsley, cover and serve. Serve with lemons and Spicy Rouille sauce on side.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of John Nye, Costa Mesa, California