Cioppino: A Fine Kettle of Fish
I am half Sicilian, so a large part of the family does "The Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve. I do not have the patience to make seven dishes[. I make this instead — it uses five varieties of seafood, all in one pot. Now that's a happy holiday!]
- 1/4 cup (3 turns around the pan in a slow stream) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 to 3 flat fillets of anchovies, drained
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup good quality dry white wine
- 1 (14-ounce) container chicken stock
- 1 (32-ounce) can chunky style crushed tomatoes
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds cod, cut into 2-inch chunks
- Salt and pepper
- 8 large shrimp, ask for deveined easy-peel or peel and devein
- 8 sea scallops
- 16 to 20 raw mussels, scrubbed
- A loaf of fresh, crusty bread, for mopping
In a large pot over moderate heat combine oil, crushed pepper, anchovies, garlic, and bay. Let anchovies melt into oil. The anchovies act as a natural salt, the pepper flakes will infuse the oil, providing heat.
Chop celery and onion near stove and add to the pot as you work. Saute vegetables for a few minutes to begin to soften and add wine to the pot. Reduce wine a minute, then add chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, and parsley. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to medium low.
Season fish chunks with salt and pepper. Add fish and simmer 5 minutes, giving the pot a shake now and then. Do not stir your soup with a spoon after the addition of fish or you will break it up. Add shrimp, scallops, and mussels and cover pot. Cook 10 minutes, giving the pot a good shake now and again.
Remove the lid and discard any mussels that do not open. Carefully ladle stew into shallow bowls and pass bread at the table.
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