Thursday, December 27, 2007

A New Tradition: Cioppino!

Last year, my dad and sister made Cioppino the day after Christmas. We did it again this year, and twice in a row makes it a family tradition! With a meal as delightful as Cioppino, one hardly needs a reason to make it. It's very festive with its red base and bright green parsley on top.

Cioppino is said to have originated among Italian fishermen in the San Francisco Bay area, who 'chipped in' their surplus catch to the common pot at the end of the day, which evolved into 'cioppino' as words do. Another story says it is derived from the Ligurian word 'ciuppin,' meaning 'fish stew.'

My sister got the recipe from, and we made it as follows:

1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 diced bell peppers (two green, two red, all organic!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 bottle clam juice
2 cups tomato juice
2 cups red wine
2 bay leaves
1 bunch parsley, minced, reserving 1/2 cup for garnish

3 pounds tilapia, cut into one-inch cubes
1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled
2 pounds littleneck clams, steamed, reserving liquid

In an 8-quart stockpot, saute onions and peppers in olive oil until barely tender. Add garlic and saute a minute longer. Add salt, tomatoes, clam juice, tomato juice, red wine, bay leaves, and parsley, reserving some for garnish. Simmer 20 minutes.
Add the tilapia and simmer until barely cooked (3 minutes), then add pre-cooked shrimp and clams and simmer until heated through. Serve in warmed bowls with crusty sourdough bread, lots of napkins, and empty bowls for the shells. Go back for seconds. Bon Appetito!

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