... And then it's spring and Easter is upon us. It's hard to tell with this late winter we are having, but we will proceed as per usual, and as per usual, it's time to plan the holiday dinner.
My first thought is always a deliciously prepared leg of lamb marinated in herbs, lemon and garlic and one of the plethora of spring vegetables gently prepared. However, this season, I was curious about the seasonal local fish in our area of the country. On the list are tilefish, winter flounder, Atlantic mackerel, shad, lobster, skate, oysters, clams and mussels. This got me to thinking: What is the best way to showcase this seafood? This Northeasterner decided to take a page out of the Northwesterner's cookbook and make a cioppino. It's a San Francisco staple that highlights the bounty of their waters.
The tomato-based stew features mostly shellfish and seafood like mussels and shrimp, but also fish like cod, whichholds together in the cooking process. Unfortunately, there are no seasonal fish on the northeast list that have this same stewing staying power, so if you want to keep the dish local and seasonal, you'll have to adopt some other methods (see SCHOP! Tip) in addition to omitting the shrimp and squid--I won't tell if you won't.
SCHOP! Tip: In place of the cod, separately pan-sear pieces of skate or winter flounder seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Place at the bottom of the bowl and top with a serving of cioppino.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 small (or 1/2 large) fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon 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-ounce bottle clam juice
- 1 pound skinless fillets haddock or U.S. Pacific cod, cut into 1-inch pieces (or see SCHOP! Tip for keeping local and seasonal)
- 1/2 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
- 1/2 pound clams, scrubbed
- 1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, or frozen king crab legs, thawed
- 1 pound cleaned squid, thawed if frozen, bodies cut into 1/2-inch rings, tentacles left whole
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 12 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes with juices, wine and clam juice. Cover, 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 two minutes. Add squid, cover and cook until mussels and clams open and seafood is cooked through, about 5 minutes (discard mussels/clams that do not open). Serve with bread.
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter @SCHOPgirl or Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.