Citizens, the antiquarian culinary historian who ALONE is the mighty TFD has been collecting recipes since My early high school days, going back to the early 80’s! Yes, I predate the public Internet and the hundreds of recipes I photocopied, ripped out of magazines and clipped from newspapers are still to this very day sitting in a large box in my office.
It is now time to start unlocking these so-called “lost recipes”! It’s true, the vast majority are nowhere to be found on the Internet, and it is long overdue to return them to the world!
My first recipe is from 1989 – published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (back when the recipes they posted were still designed to recreate the complexities of the actual restaurant dish, and weren’t ‘dumbed down’ for home cooks) by legendary seafood chef Rick Moonen when he was in charge of one of NYC’s finest piscine restaurants.
It may look laborious. To simplify, chef Moohen suggests making the consomme a day in advance and refrigerating it, or up to one month in advance and freezing it.
Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine.
Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish all sourced from salt-water ocean; in this case the Pacific. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce.
The dish can be served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread. In the dish, the bread is as a starch, similar to a pasta. It is freely dipped into the ample quantity of sauce. The bread then absorbs, holds, and modulates the flavorful yet slender (watery) sauce; that is to be freely “sopped up” by the heavy, full bodied breads. The bread’s consumption, after dipping into the sauce, prolongs the flavors on the palate when eating the dish.
Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian immigrants who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. When a fisherman came back empty handed, they would walk around with a pot to the other fishermen asking them to chip in whatever they could. Whatever ended up in the pot became their Cioppino. The fishermen that chipped in expected the same treatment if they came back empty handed in the future. It later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.
The name comes from ciuppin which is the name of a classic soup from the Italian region Liguria, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.
The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew similar to ciuppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto di pesce from Abruzzo, and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix from Catalan-speaking regions and bouillabaisse from Provence.
Generally the seafood is cooked in broth and served in the shell, including the crab, which is often served halved or quartered. It therefore requires special utensils, typically a crab fork and cracker. Depending on the restaurant, it may be accompanied by a bib to prevent food stains on clothing, a damp napkin, and a second bowl for the shells. A variation, commonly called “lazy man’s cioppino,” is served with shells pre-cracked or removed.
Chef Moonen’s version is quite upscale, using a classically-clarified fish consommé and seafood more suited to NYC waters. It is delicious, though atypical of the classic versions found here in San Francisco. Well worth trying, my Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
Rick Moonen’s New York City Cioppino
- Total Time: 0 hours
- The fish consommé:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
- 2 Serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon, plus one pinch, dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon, plus one pinch, dried thyme
- 1 bunch of parsley stems
- 6 doves garlic, chopped
- 1 12–ounce can plum tomatoes
- 4 1/2 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice (see note)
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups bottled clam juice
- 1 pound firm-fleshed white fish (can be any non-oily fish, such as monkfish, flounder, sole, grouper or scallops)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 leek, washed and chopped
- 1 cup red or green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 10 plum tomatoes, fresh or canned, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 12 egg whites
- The cioppino:
- 1 pound firm-fleshed fish such as red snapper, striped bass or sea bass, filleted and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound raw large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 dozen small clams, washed
- 1 dozen sea scallops
- 1 pound lump crab meat
- 2 dozen cultivated mussels
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced largr
- 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced large
- 6 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and diced large
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, roughly chopped
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil until it is smoking. Add the onions, peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for five minutes.
- Stir in the basil, one teaspoon of the oregano, one teaspoon of the thyme, half of the parsley stems and the garlic. Cook for one minute. Add the 12-ounce can of tomatoes with the juice and bring to the boil.
- Add the stock, wine and clam juice, bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for 20 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract all the flavor. Set aside the broth and discard the vegetables.
- In a food processor, place the fish trimmings and pulse the machine on and off until the fish has the consistency of ground beef. Remove the fish to a large bowl.
- Place the onion, celery, leek, pepper and tomatoes in the food processor and pulse on and off until ground. Mix this with the ground fish. With a whisk, whip in the remaining oregano and thyme, the remaining parsley stems, the bay leaves, peppercorns and half the egg whites, until incorporated.
- In another bowl, whip the remaining egg whites until they form a soft peak. Fold them into the fish and vegetable mixture. Transfer to a large, tall pot.
- In another pot, bring the fish broth to a rolling boil. Ladle some of the hot fish broth into the pot containing the fish, vegetable and egg-white mixture, whisking with each addition.
- When you have about one-third of the hot liquid incorporated, pour the rest in at once. Whip the mixture well with a whisk.
- Place the pot over high heat. As the mixture heats up, the egg white mixture on the top will become more solid, forming a raft. When this happens, reduce the heat to low. Using a ladle, push a hole through the center of the raft. This will allow you to see the mixture as it cooks. Do not allow the mixture to boil; if it does, it will not become clear.
- Simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Ladle out the consommé through the hole and strain through a wet towel. Discard the raft. Once the consommé has cooled, it can be refrigerated for one day or frozen for up to one month.
- In a clean pot, bring the clarified consommé to the boil.
- Place the fish pieces, the shellfish and the peppers in a pot. Pour the boiling consommé over the fish. Simmer until the clams and mussels open up, about four to five minutes after it returns to the simmer.
- Divide into hot soup bowls. Garnish with tomatoes and parsley.
- Note: Fish stock will give the cioppino a more intense flavor than clam juice. It can be prepared several weeks in advance and frozen. Bottled clam juice contains salt. If you use it, taste the soup before adding additional salt.
- Prep Time: 0 hours
- Cook Time: 0 hours
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