Day by Day

Friday, December 19, 2003

I'm on a Seafood kick

So I'm going to give out a reciepe that I have kept to myself for years. It's the ultimate in comfort food for me.

Chioppino. (Pronounced cho-PEE-no)

It's an Italian seafood stew that was made popular is San Francisco. Don't let that turn you off, it happened before San Fran went nuts. The key is to let it simmer all day. I only make it when I have a day off and can let it cook for hours. Just keep the stove on low and let this simmer, otherwise the flavors don't blend and it doesn't taste right. For those who don't cook much, here's a little advice, given to me by a woman who made lots of money with her cooking skills: A recipe is only a starting guideline. By no means do you have to follow it to the letter. You can change it depending on your tastes and preferences. I know that I love the Italian herbs, and I use a shitload of them. You can use less if you want, or more. Got it? Good. I'm writing this down from memory, so please be advised: I have never used measuring devices for this reciepe. I've always done "A handfull of this" and "A pinch of that". So feel free to fiddle around with the measurments if you want. Anyways:


One can tomato sauce.
One small can tomato paste.
About one pint of water.
Two tablespoons Basil (a big handfull)
One tablespoon Oregano (a regular handfull)
One tablespoon Thyme (a regular handfull)
One tablespoon Fennel Seed. (a small pile)
Two to four cloves of Garlic.

Mince up the garlic as fine as you can, and then toss everything into a pot. Bring to a boil, and as soon as it boils, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Let it simmer for at least four hours to blend the flavors. These are the essential ingredients. Everything else can be fiddled with, depending on what you like or don't like. The amount of water can also vary, depending on how thick you want the stew. For a thin stew, add more water. For a thicker stew, add less. Some other things I add are:

Seasoned salt
Pepper and/or paprika
Mushrooms (I use absolute shitloads of mushrooms)
Onions (I use lots)
Green onions
Celery, depending on how I feel that day.

You can use all of those, or none. It's up to you. Once again I stress: LET IT SIMMER FOR HOURS. You want all those flavors to blend.

Now, for the seafood. No matter what seafood you use, you need to have at least fish, shrimp, and scallops. The type of fish doesn't matter, and I normally just grab any fish scraps that they have at the local seafood shop. I end up with salmon, halibut, cod, snapper, ect. You can use one kind of fish, or ten kinds, it doesn't matter. Debone the fish, and then cook it really quick. For the fish, shrimp, and scallops, alll you need to do is saute them quickly so the outside of the meat is seared, then dump it in the pot and let the stew cook it the rest of the way. Do this about ten minutes before the stew is served. I normally add other seafood as well.

Clams (live, in the shell)
Mussles (same as clams)
Crab meat, if it's not too expensive.

Add the clams and mussles about twenty minutes before you serve it up. The other seafood only takes ten minutes to cook. That will cook all of the seafood without turning it into rubber. Serve it up with a loaf of bread, and let everyone chow down. This amount will feed about 4-6 people, with a little left over for lunch tomorow. This is a great reciepe if you're having guests over.

I know it looks complicated, but it's actually a very simple reciepe. Just let that pot simmer for at least four hours, and add the seafood ten to twenty minutes before you're going to serve it. I know it's ready when all the clams and mussles have opened up.

If anyone tries this, let me know how it goes!

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