My first and only experience with Cioppino was in the form of a frozen, prepared meal from Trader Joe’s. One Saturday afternoon here recently, Mr. Prevention decided to earn some brownie points and do the unthinkable: feed ME for once!
I’ll be honest, Trader Joe’s makes a decent frozen, prepared meal…but there’s only so much microwaving seafood can take before it’s…rubber.
I gave him an “A” for effort and finished my serving without any complaints – it was good.
But when my Bon Appetit showed up this month and I spied a Cioppino recipe, I knew I had to try it. The recipe wasn’t within my possession for more than a day before I had all the ingredients on hand to make it. I love when cooking magazines read my mind, or fulfill my every cooking desire!
I’m not new to live mussels and I wrote a blog post awhile ago on how to check for live mussels so you know which ones to discard before cooking. Oh, and also how to store them at home…and not suffocate them to death.
As for squid…well, I’ve had some interesting experiences with squid. When we lived in Tulsa, I sent Mr. P out to buy squid to make faux fried calamari (great recipe there, by the way!). He came back with a frozen solid block of many, many squid. They took for-ev-er to defrost…and then they had to be “cleaned”.
Trust me when I say squid are one sea creature you don’t want to get down and dirty with. Buy them cleaned and raw (I get mine from Whole Foods for $7.99/lb). Otherwise, buy them frozen and already cut into rings. You’re welcome in advance for this advice because it’s seldom that selection and/or purchasing of an ingredient is a bigger challenge than preparation. In the case of squid, however, this is very much so the case.
Are you still with me, or did I lose you at getting “down and dirty” with squid?
Anyways, if you’re still reading, you’re probably a lover of seafood or interested in expanding your repertoire when it comes to dinners at home from down under. If either is the case, today you came to the right place. This recipe is 5-star and yet very simple to make. You won’t regret stepping out of your comfort zone for this one…promise.
Cioppino from Bon Appetit
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 8-oz bottle clam juice
1/2 lb skinless cod fillets, cut into 1″ pieces
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 lb large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb cleaned squid, thawed if frozen, bodies cut into 1/2″ rings, tentacles left whole
Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Finely grind in a spice mill (or put in a plastic baggie and beat with a skillet…); set aside.
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel are soft, about 10 minutes.
Stir in ground fennel seeds, tomatoes with juices, wine, clam juice, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Stir in fish, mussels, and shrimp and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add squid, cover, and cook until mussels open and seafood is cooked through, about 5 minutes (discard mussels that do not open). Yield: 7 servings (about 1 1/2 cups seafood and 2/3 cup broth).
Nutrition Information (per serving): 301 calories; 7.1 g. fat; 176 mg. cholesterol; 728 mg. sodium; 15.1 g. carbohydrate; 3 g. fiber; 35.9 g. protein
Result: If you love seafood, please consider this a must-make recipe. If you’re scared of mussels or squid, don’t be…they’re a breeze! This dish is packed with lean protein and is perfect for those following a low-carb lifestyle or wishing for a low-calorie, high-protein meal. I will definitely be making this again – Mr. Prevention and I loved this meal and it was perfect for the cold front we’ve had this week. Enjoy!
Would you believe Mr. Prevention had the audacity to say this version wasn’t that much better than Trader Joe’s? Blasphemy! The man is clearly a lunatic (and way too tolerant of prepared meals and rubbery, over-cooked seafood). But at least he and I can agree that this recipe was phenomenal.
Last day at the clinic…I hope I don’t cry! Off for a morning workout…TGIF!