Every year when the weather turns chilly I like to warm up with some seafood stew for dinner. My favorite recipe is similar to the famous San Francisco fish stew, Cioppino. Since Cioppino was traditionally made with the catch of the day - feel free to toss in whatever combination of fish and shellfish that you like. The stew is done in less than an hour, making it a perfect choice for last minute guests. If you want to follow the San Francisco theme, serve the stew with a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup clam juice (or fish stock)
¼ cup dry red wine
2 (1 pound) cans whole tomatoes, lightly crushed by hand
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or oregano)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 baking potato (Russet), peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
½ pound firm fish (such as cod or sea bass)
½ pound medium shrimp, peeled
12 cherrystone clams (well-scrubbed)
Cilantro and lime for serving
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and heat until shimmering. Sauté the chopped onion and green pepper until soft. Add in the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Be careful not to let the garlic brown or it will turn bitter.
Add the clam stock, red wine, crushed tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste and spices. Stir well.
Add the potato to the pot and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The potato should be cooked through, but still firm.
To the pot, add in the fish, shrimp, clams and mussels. Cover and cook until the shrimp is opaque and pink, and the clams and mussels open, about 10 minutes. Toss out any shellfish that have not opened.
To serve, garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime. If you don’t like the flavor of cilantro, you can use chopped parsley.