Cioppino is a Californian fish stew, drawing its roots from Italian regional fish soups and stews. It’s delightfully light but satisfying to eat: think paella but without the rice.
The whole idea of a stew like this is to make use of what ingredients you have: vary up the fish and shellfish, the capsicum could be subbed out for fennel, the silverbeet could become cavolo nero.
Lois’ original recipe makes an enormous feast for eight. I’ve given quantities to make enough for four.
Cioppino (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Good Food, p.24)
olive oil, couple of good sloshes for the pan
1 large onion, chopped
1 red or green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can whole tomatoes in juice
1 cup dry red wine or white wine
1 cup fish stock
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
bunch silverbeet leaves, stems removed, leaves shredded
500gm firm white fish (moki, monkfish, trevally)
12 fresh mussels in the shell
12 fresh clams in the shell
handful fresh parsley, chopped
to serve: crusty baguette (Acme, if you live in Wellington) & lemon
First make the sauce. In a wide frying pan for which you have a lid, sauté the chopped onion and capsicum until really soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute further before adding the tomatoes, wine, stock, herbs, and seasonings. Bring to boil, then lower heat and leave to simmer while you prepare the seafood.
De-beard the mussels and use a metal scratchy cleaner to clean the outside of the mussel and clam shells. Cut the fish into 3cm pieces.
Once the sauce is starting to thicken, add the silverbeet leaves, arrange the mussels on top, and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer and steam for 3 minutes. Remove lid and add clams and fish; recover the pan with the lid and leave for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove lid; the mussels and clam shells should have opened. If not, place lid back on and leave for further 1-2 minutes.
Once the shells have opened, sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and take the whole impressive pan to the table: you know what to do next.