This Cioppino recipe includes an element of redemption.
Adriana — my dear friend from way back when in Puerto Rico, and now another single mom by choice and an essential part of my New York life, has made numerous appearances on Hot, Cheap & Easy. But even more of our fantastic meals together have never made it to these pages. We like to blame it on the kids. It’s one of the things children are good for.
It’s not as though we don’t try. We start out dutifully recording the ingredients; me glaring across the counter at Adriana waving the appropriate measuring implements at her, grabbing the bloody and limp plastic wrap from the butcher as she is trying to throw it out so I can write down the exact weight of the meat, and giving her the evil eye every time she starts to improvise before I have a chance to count the peppercorns or the coriander seeds, or, the grains of salt, she would say.
Then, somewhere along the way, between the distractions of our children needing: (Select All That Apply) food, water, a different show on T.V., a pencil sharpened or mediation, and our needing to open the second bottle of wine, we sort of forget to note what time we put the roast in, or how long we cooked the vegetables, or how many minutes on each side…we are both good cooks, but it is a different sort of discipline to write everything down as you do it.
I am used to measuring and timing now, and in fact quite like the discipline it imposes and my ability to recreate pretty much the same dish each time if I so choose, thanks to careful measuring and annotation.
But it kinda drives Adriana crazy, like a continuation of work when we are supposed to be having fun. Like laying a Type A nerve-jangle on a Type B chill vibe. Like trying to tell Picasso to color in the lines. A pain in the ass at best, and counterproductive at worst.
Once I called her out on it in public — the fact that she and I could only rarely keep it together to get a whole recipe down — and told the world that our other mutual friend, Kendra, and I managed (see Grilled Lamb Chops), well, the challenge was on, the gauntlet was thrown, and I’ll show you who can write a recipe…….
So, Cioppino — a seafood dish invented by Italian-Americans in San Francisco – was Adriana’s idea. The fact that I finally have home-grown ají dulce (sweet little cooking peppers from Puerto Rico) and recao (sawtooth culantro) made us decide to put a criollo spin on it.
The results were outstanding, both that evening and for lunch the next day, and, lo and behold…here is the recipe…Take that, Kendra!
3/4 lb jumbo shrimp, unpeeled (you will peel them and use the peels for the broth, then set aside the shrimp for later)
3 cups water
1/4 bulb fennel roughly chopped
Half onion peeled
1/2 cup packed parsley
Place all ingredients, including peels from the shrimp, in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes. Strain and reserve.
6 large cloves garlic
1 cup mixed onions and shallots, diced
1 cup mixed cooking peppers: green, cubanelle, poblano, aji dulce, red…diced to 1/4 inch
6 leaves recao (sawtooth coriander)
Handful cherry tomatoes roughly chopped
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp oregano (dry)
1 bay leaf
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup red wine
2oz chorizo, diced
Clam juice (enough to supplement the fish broth as needed. You will need a total of 1 ¼ Cup broth)
10 freshly ground pepper corns
about ¼ – ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/2 lb sea scallops
1/2 lb red snapper filet, skin on, 1″ slices
18 little neck clams, scrubbed
(plus the ¾ lb. peeled shrimp you set aside when you made the fish broth)
2 tbs olive oil and garlic, onions/shallots, peppers, recao, and cherry tomatoes into skillet to soften.
Start at high, stir to coat and reduce to medium. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add oregano, 1 bay leaf, diced tomatoes.
Add red wine and allow to boil until reduced by half. Add chorizo
Add fish broth (adding clam juice to the homemade fish broth to complete 1 ¼ Cups if necessary), pepper corns and pepper flakes.
Add clams, cook five minutes covered. Then add all other ingredients cook until they lose their translucence. An additional 7 minutes.
Serve with crusty bread!
You may also like:
Serenata (salt cod and root vegetables)
Mussels Vinaigrette Elegant Spanish seafood finger food
Shrimp in Seconds, for tapas, snacks, or salads