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fish stew for Christmas Eve, any great recipes to share???

I would like to make a nice authentic cioppino fish stew for Christmas Eve.
I'm open to other types of fish stew as long as it is out of this world good.

Thanks for your recipes and help....

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  1. Okay did you watch Bobby Flay's Show Down this week? He featured cioppino, which I had never heard of until then. Is there any difference from a boulabaisse?

    4 Replies
    1. re: millygirl

      Tomato-based fish and shellfish stews are common all over the Mediterranean. The types of fish vary locally. American cioppino supposedly was developed by Italian immigrants in the Bay Area and is based on Dungeness crab which gives the broth an incredibly rich taste. It also will stand up to red wine instead of white wine in the sauce, which adds another wrinkle.

      1. re: millygirl

        A proper bouillabaise is supposed to contain at least 3 types of fish, (usually including scorpionfish, conger and sea robin according to wiki) and usually has a light non-tomato broth- but cioppino is usually at least half shellfish, and always tomato-based, whenever I have ordered it. I haven't found any good versions of restaurant cioppino outside San Francisco (good versions are even difficult to find in SF), but I've made similar seafood stews at home.

        1. re: phoenikia

          Phoenikia, I am thinking the same thing...I've know begun to think more of a light rich shrimp broth with varies fish and a few shell's. Any suggestions of which fish to purchase, the mentioned ones are no too accessible to me. Also any recipes would be appreciated. Thank's heylids....P.S. Happy Holiday's Everyone....

          1. re: heylids

            Here's a pretty good cioppino recipe from the Tadich Grill in SF:
            I tend to improvise, but I've used the Tadich Grill recipe as a guide.

            Haven't tried this one:
            but seeing as Michael Chiarello is a Northern Californian, might be a good bet!

      2. I like a good fish chowder on cold days. I make it like clam chowder only with boneless fish chunks. I fry a finely sliced quality beef bacon as I prefer it over pork and then add chopped onions & garlic, let caramelize and then add cubed potatoes. When adding water do not cover potatoes to the top! If you do it will be watery. Bring to boil and reduce heat. When the taters are done add 1" fish chunks and cream or evaporated milk. With much care bring heat up to a low simmer for just a few minutes and serve with oyster crackers, fresh cracked pepper and crusty bread. For fish I prefer Halibut but regular Arctic Cod will work fine.

        1. I made a bouillabaisse a while back, working from a Cooks Illustrated recipe and adapting according to the available fishes, etc. Bouiilabaisse is very different from Cioppino, and it is almost certainly more expensive and also more work. But it satisfies the out-of-this-world good criterion! The hallmarks of the dish are (1) maximal variety of non-oily fishes and shellfishes; (2) saffron and pernod among the broth flavorings; (3) accompaniment of garlic bread and a special sauce called rouille.

          One thing I did differently: rather than make a fish stock, I used about a gallon of frozen stock that I had made before from King Crab shells, which I always save whenever possible. It makes a very flavorful stock, and it is a lot easier to get hold of than the main ingredients of fish stock (heads and bones of non-oily fishes). Plus you could use the crab meat, if you had it (which I did not).

          1. Heylids, Go to: www.soupsong.com There you will find a myriad of soup recipes including several excellent seafood soups.

            1. Hi Heylids -

              I've been using the following recipe for years and it gets pretty darn good reviews from family and friends if I do say so myself (yep, I'm 'Will' in the title). It requires a slowcooker/crockpot but that's the key to its' goodness - long, slow cooking :


              Will's Fisherman's Stew (Cioppino
              1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes with juice
              1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
              1/2 cup chopped onion
              1 cup dry white wine
              1/3 cup olive oil
              3 cloves garlic, minced
              1/2 cup parsley, chopped
              1 green pepper, chopped
              1 hot pepper (optional), chopped
              salt and pepper, to taste
              1 teaspoon thyme
              2 teaspoons basil
              1 teaspoon oregano
              1/2 teaspoon paprika
              1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
              water, if desired*
              1 deboned (important) and cubed fillet of seabass, cod or other whitefish
              1 doz. prawns
              1 doz. scallops
              1 doz. mussels
              1 doz. clams (can use canned)

              Place all ingredients in slow cooker except seafood. Cover and cook 6 to 8 hours on low.
              About 30 minutes before serving, add your seafood. Turn the heat up to HIGH and stir occasionally (but gently).

              Serve with true sourdough bread if you can find it. We here in San Francisco are lucky in that we have a choice of several really 'sour' tasting brands. By the way, don't be afraid to dunk your bread in the chioppino as it's considered perfectly good manners in this case.

              Will's Notes:
              *You can add water to the recipe to thin out the Cioppino somewhat but we prefer it nice and thick.
              **Use your imagination and personal preferences as to which seafoods to add. Some choose to serve with fresh cracked crab when in season

              1. I love the "creamy seafood chowder" from a cookbook called Tom's Big Dinners by Tom Douglas, a Seattle restauranteur. You start with chicken stock, then make ham hock stock, then use that as a base with tomato puree, cream, potato, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab and a white fish like cod or halibut. Serve with a smoked paprike rouille. I don't usually like fish soups or tomato based soups, but I love this one.

                1. I make Cioppino all the time. Made it for the last night of Hanukkah on Friday. Here is my recipe. No fail.

                  MY CIOPPINO - Should serve about 4 -6 depending on appetite.

                  1 medium bulb of fennel... save the hairy fronds, lose the long stalks
                  4 large garlic cloves, minced
                  2 medium onions, finely chopped
                  1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
                  1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
                  1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
                  1 1/2 teaspoons salt
                  1/2 teaspoon black pepper
                  1/4 cup olive oil
                  1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
                  2 tablespoons tomato paste
                  1 1/2 cups white wine
                  1 (28- to 32-oz) can crushed tomatoes
                  1 cup bottled clam juice
                  1 cup chicken broth

                  The Fish! ... use what's on sale. Do NOT use salmon, tuna or swordfish (too oily).

                  1 (1-lb) crab legs, precooked... if on sale
                  18 small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams (1 1/2 lb) such as littlenecks, scrubbed or mussels
                  1 lb skinless red snapper, cod or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
                  1 lb large shrimp whatever size you like, shelled (I used precooked frozen shrimp)
                  You can also add calamari or scallops or Lobster!!! or almost anything.

                  In a heavy dutch oven… If you have a mandoline, shave the fennel bulb very very thin. If not, use your knife skills to cut it very very thin.

                  Cook fennel, garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions and fennel are softened, about 5 minutes.

                  Add bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about (almost) half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. I usually add a tablespoon or two of sugar if the tomatoes are a little acidic.

                  DONE! You can now put this in the fridge for up to two days.

                  When you're ready for dinner, bring the "soup" up to a low boil and add the clams/mussels first... let them cook until just barely open. Add the fish and the shrimp and it should only take another 3–5 minutes.