Seafood Cioppino

Story and recipes by Debbi Snook l Wine Commentary by Gary Twining

Photo by Beth Segal

Reach for the freshest seafood at the holidays and give it one of the zestiest showcases: Cioppino (cha-PEEN-oh), the peppery, tomato-based San Francisco stew. We’ve turned up the citrus and anise notes in this version. If you cling to the full heat of the original, double the red pepper flakes. Remember, timing is everything when adding the final seafood. Feel free to make the broth a day ahead and bring again to a simmer before adding the fruits de mer.

Seafood Cioppino

  • Baguette, sliced thinly and lightly toasted
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice or 2 cups good fish stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 two-inch-long strip of orange peel
  • 1/4 cup Pernod or other anise-based liqueur
  • 2 dozen unbroken clams, mussels (your choice)
  • 2 1/2-pounds seafood, your choice of halibut (or the lobster-like halibut cheeks, if you can get them), salmon, cod and shrimp, in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 TBS grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add shallots and onions and cook a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, marjoram, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook one minute.

Add wine and let boil until reduced by half. Add tomatoes, clam juice, bay leaves, orange peel and Pernod. Stir, then simmer slowly 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and orange peel. Add clams, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add mussels, shrimp and fish. Do not stir. Cover again and cook for 5 more minutes, or until all clams and mussels are opened and shrimp and fish are cooked through. Discard any unopened shellfish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, ladling soup into bowls and topping with grated orange zest and chopped parsley. Serve with toasted baguette.

Serves 6-8.

Gary: The tomatoes and light tomato broth in this preparation do not negate the potential for a crisp, rich and textured white wine. Look for richer examples of Bordeaux Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pouilly Fumé Chardonnay that is lightly oaked or unoaked Bandol Blanc, Rhône Blanc and Albariño. Dry rosé would also be a nice pairing, such as a Tavel, Provence rosé or other wines that are dry and crisp. Also look for lighter reds with acidity and low tannins, such as Gamay, Pinot Noir, Valpolicella, Barbera or elegant versions of classic red grape varietals from various global sources.

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