Cioppino, for our first time
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ¾ cups chopped onion
1 large chopped green bell pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
8 to 10 cloves garlic, chopped (about 3 tablespoons), divided
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (750 milliliter) bottle fruity red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds firm, meaty fish such as shark, yellowtail, monkfish or sea bass, diced into large chunks
1 pound delicate, flaky fish, such as rock cod or snapper, diced into large chunks
(we used Tilapia we had on hand for the fish)
¾ pound shrimp, in shell
1 (1¼- to 1½-pound) Dungeness crab, cooked, cleaned and cracked
(we omitted the crab)
1 pound small clams and/or mussels (we used both)
1 pound calamari (our addition)
½ cup chopped parsley
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the crushed red pepper, fennel and half of the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook about 3 minutes.
Add the red wine and simmer until it is reduced by a third to a half, about 20 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, bay leaf, oregano and pepper and cook at a low simmer until the sauce is a dark brick red, about 45 minutes.
You should have a little more than 6 cups.
(The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 2 hours in advance or even further if tightly covered and refrigerated.)
While the sauce is simmering, cut all of the fish into bite-sized chunks.
Season the fish and the shrimp with the remaining chopped garlic and a little salt, cover tightly and refrigerate.
In a separate large saucepan, one that is taller than it is wide, arrange the fish.
First, ladle in a thin layer of the sauce.
Then arrange the cracked crab in a layer.(If using crab)
Begin stacking the fish on top of that in the order of how long they will take to cook: start with the meaty ones, then the flaky, then add the shrimp, then the clams and/or mussels, and lastly the calamari..
Pour the remaining sauce over the fish and give the pan a good shake to distribute the sauce evenly.
Cover and place over medium heat.
Cook until the clams and mussels are open, about 20 minutes.
When ready to serve, taste and add more salt if necessary, gently stir in the parsley and ladle the stew into warm bowls.