Shortcut Cioppino

This classic fish muddle, historians tell us, was created in the early decades of this century by fishermen trolling off the coast of San[ Francisco. One afternoon, someone aboard ship tossed onions, garlic and tomatoes into a giant kettle, added some of the day's catch and let everything simmer until dinnertime. Today, there are dozens of variations on the theme. My quick version is ready in less than 40 minutes.]

Makes 4 to 6 servings
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen onions (about 2 medium-large yellow onions)
  • Half of a 1-pound bag frozen bell pepper stir-fry mix (red, green, and yellow peppers; do not thaw)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large whole bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, with their liquid
  • Two 1-pound jars chunky salsa (as mild or hot as you like)
  • Two 8-ounce bottles clam juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine such as a Verdicchio or Soave
  • 1 pound boned and skinned halibut, haddock, or cod
  • 1 pound shelled and deveined medium-size raw shrimp or 1/2 pound each shrimp and lump crab or sea scallops, these halved if large
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat oil in large kettle over moderately high heat 2 minutes. Add onions, stir-fry mix, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and basil and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

  • Add tomatoes, salsa, clam juice, and wine; bring to simmering, adjust heat so mixture bubbles gently, and cook uncovered just until flavors meld, about 20 minutes.

  • Add halibut and shrimp and cook uncovered just until shrimp turn pink and fish almost flakes, about 5 minutes.

  • Remove bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with rough country bread.

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