Thursday, December 22

Saffron Cioppino


Whenever I see cioppino (a tomato-based fish stew) on a menu, I have to order it. I love being able to have different bites of fish, all swimming in a rich broth, and I always ask for more toasted bread alongside. This was my first time making it at home (adapted from this recipe), which allowed me to customize the dish to include my favorite shellfish. I also pumped up the volume with some saffron, which added a luxurious depth of flavor and color. It's the perfect hearty winter meal but special enough to serve for company.

Saffron Cioppino:
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 4 diced leeks*, 1 diced bulb of fennel, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, a large pinch of red chili flakes, and salt and pepper.
  • Cook until leeks and fennel are soft and translucent, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add a large pinch of saffron to 3/4 c. warm water and let stand for several minutes.
  • Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes,** 1 1/2 c. white wine, and saffron water to the pot.
  • Let broth come to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes.***Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  • Add in 1/2 lb. cleaned mussels and 1/2 lb. peeled and de-veined shrimp, cover pot, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in 1/2 lb. cleaned, thinly sliced squid and cover for another 4-5 minutes, or until fish is tender and cooked through.
  • To serve, divide onto plates and serve with toasted French bread.

Serves three-four
* Rinsed well of grit and tough outer leaves removed. Use white and light green parts only.
**Or use whole peeled tomatoes and crush by hand.
***Add more water (I added about a cup) to thin out the broth as needed.