I am going to make a cioppino for the first time. I've read many recipes and it seems a pretty simple process. Hardest part is getting all the seefood to cook evenly and finish at the same time. One recipe I read had you cook the clams and mussels in the broth and remove when opened before adding other seafood. This seemed a good idea, but I don't like the idea of having to fish them out. It occurred to me I could cook them in a seperate pan in olive oil and butter with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and white wine. Then Cook the fish fillets, shrimp and scallops in the cioppiono broth and add the pre-cooked shellfish when the others are just right.
Does this sound like a bad/good idea, or just unneccessary?
The biggest downside to your plan is that you will lose a lot of the flavor that the clams and mussels release when they open. You could use some of the broth from the cioppino to deglaze the pan you cooked them in. That would help.
You may be right to be worried about everything finishing at exactly the same time in the soup, but it's a soup / stew and - for me - making sure that the flavors have time to combine to create a new dish (the cioppino) is more important that exact doneness of the components.
Are you planning to serve it the minute it is done or will it sit for a while anyway? If it will not be served immediately - or if you'll still be eating leftovers a day or two later, why work that hard?
I would tend to put the fish in - in order of firmest/ongest cooking first, then any soft fish as WELL as clams/mussels next, and shrimps as those are starting to open.
You definitely want the mussel & clam juices going into your cioppino base to add their briney goodness to your finished dish. No point in making seperately, and not traditional... this is a one-pot dish! Yum!