It was last week where I featured a somewhat exotic dish known as cioppino. It was a dish that I heard my parents get excited about while growing up, and one where I realized why they were excited. Cioppino is a dish full of great…
Month: April 2010
Chio what? Pronounced as “chioppino”, this is a word that I was first introduced to back in late middle school, and early high school. I do not recall eating the cioppino, but I do remember the expressions on my parents faces when they were about to prepare this extremely delicious dish.
After getting back from vacation, an extremely busy week back at work, and time away from my kitchen, I actually missed having dinner with everyone, and I really needed to relief a bit of stress. This is where I was reminded about the excitement of the word ‘cioppino’. A hearty, and extremely amazing dish of mixed seafood, and probably one of the best broths you could probably ever have. I kid you not, this is a home run when it comes to soup, plus it is interactive where you can get a bit messy with your hands if you so desire, and that is my type of food.
After I confirmed the dinner party, I asked my daughter if she wanted to go to the local fishmonger, in my case, Empire Fish. I wanted great quality seafood, and Empire Fish is my only option. My daughter and I were both excited. After our adventure, we were ready for the rest of the day, and definitely prepared for the party.
I took about 5 hours to cook the broth, but that is not to say you have to take it that long. I am a believer, much like making a great Italian red sauce, that the longer, the better.
This serves about 10 adults, keeping in mind that the cooked shellfish can be removed and sauce reserved and frozen for later usage.
- 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded, ribs removed, diced
- 2 medium sized onions, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 ribs of celery, diced
- 1 head of garlic (yes, one head), minced
- 1 head of garlic, top trimmed
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and ribbed, diced
- 3 tbsp of unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp hot sauce (I like Tabasco on this one)
- generous pinch of red chili flakes
- large handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 5 15 oz cans of organic tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups of good dry white wine
- 8 oz clam stock
- 64 oz seafood stock
- 1 lb of octopus, cleaned, and cut into bit sized chunks
- 1/4 lb of baby scallops
- 3/4 lb of cod fillets, cut into small chunks
- 1 1/4 lb of halibut fillets, cut into small chunks
- 3/4 lb of halibut cheeks
- 1 1/2 lb of 31-35 shrimp, peeled and cleaned
- 6 blue crabs, cleaned (lungs, head, stomach removed), halved
- 24 mussels, lightly scrubbed (live)
- 24 clams (live)
- Good sourdough baguette, cut into 6 inch length, cut in half (1-2 per person)
- unsalted butter
- garlic powder
- fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Good bottle of red or white wine for drinking
So picture all of that. It is true love. Trust me when I tell you this. It really is true love, everything about this dish. It is romantic, it is comforting, and it is well worth every bit of money that goes into it, and the flavors are out of this world!
After preparing all of your vegetables (yes it takes a bit of time to break it all down into a small dice), most of the work is over for you. So get your largest soup pot out, and warm the butter and olive oil on medium heat. Once heated, add in the diced vegetables including the onion, celery, bell pepper, minced garlic, and jalapenos. Sweat this in the pot for about 7 minutes, stirring often.
Next, add in your Tabasco sauce, chili flakes, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce, paste, basil, oregano, bay leaves, and white wine. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Add in your stocks, mix well, return to a boil again, then cover, and simmer until you are ready to begin cooking the seafood. As previously stated, I cooked mine for about five hours to let all of the flavors merry, and I believe it is well worth it.
About a hour before you are ready to serve, place the other head of whole garlic in the pot, and put in the bite sized octopus and cook for about one hour and thirty minutes. Prior to throwing in the clams and mussels, make sure they are all closed. Often times the mussels, in particular, will open up. Tap the shell on the counter, and you will see it begin to close. If it does not close, toss it in the garbage. Also note, that if they do not open up when you cook them, toss them in the garbage.
The clams will cook for about 8-10 minutes. After they are done cooking, remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. The fish, shrimp, scallops, blue crabs, and cheeks will take about 6 minutes to cook. Return the mussels and clams back to the pot, give a good stir, and turn off the heat.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Melt about 5 tablespoons butter, along with garlic powder, and chopped parsley, either on the stove, or in a microwave. Generously brush each sliced baguette with the butter mixture, and place on a baking sheet in the oven for about 6 minutes, or until a light golden brown.
Now, yes, now you are ready to serve. Ladle in plenty of broth, and place shrimp, fish, a couple of clams and mussels, as well as a blue crab into each bowl, making sure you get plenty other goodies such as the scallops and octopus in each bowl. Place one of the garlic butter baguettes into each bowl, and eat with the baguette, spoon, and your hands.
I left the king crab legs out of this one, but highly recommend breaking them down, and cooking along with the shrimp, however my father-in-law brought over some huge crab legs that I cooked separately with corn and potatoes.
I shouldn’t have to tell you any more. The smells you have been waiting for are here. Every spoonful is packed with flavor. Amazing flavor at that. The conversation was quiet at the table for the first ten minutes. That is always a good sign. I think I heard words such as “wow”, “oh my”, “oh holy wow”, or some blend of that during those ten minutes.
So if you are looking for a really amazing dish, and one that is going to impress, this is the one. Cioppino is something wonderful, and there is no doubt about it.
Larb Nuea? Right, larb nuea, or sometimes known as laab nuea. That’s correct folks, I am teaching you new words, and allowing you to explore new dishes. As I often do, I poll my friends on what they are eating for dinner, or holiday, and I really get back some great responses. One recent response was from my old time friend, Kevin. Kevin and I worked together in Dallas, Texas. We had plenty in common, and not only did that include music, and chilling out, but it also how much we enjoyed great burger, and the love of Thai food.
Kevin really opened my eyes when it came to Thai cuisine. Many of his friends were Thai, and many worked and owned a great Thai restaurant in Dallas. Kevin would shuttle me to the restaurant, where he would pretty much do the ordering. Anything from fried whole fish with a chili sauce, or what we always kept ordering, which was larb moo, and sticky rice (cow nee ow). The two go hand in hand together, much like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Larb is basically minced meat, whether it be beef or chicken, cooked just until juices have ran clear, and then mixed with really great ingredients. The sticky rice is then formed into small balls, and padded to pickup the larb. This is an ‘eat with your hands’ dish, which I also really love. Larb moo, sticky rice, and a cold beer, really make this a great Thai dish.
Thanks to Kevin, for allowing me to explore and create dishes like this!
- 1 lb of sirloin, cut into very small pieces
- 1/4cup of jasmine rice, toasted and ground
- 2 limes, juiced
- 4 tbsp of fish sauce
- 2 large shallots, cut into thin pieces
- 3 tbsp of scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup of fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
- 4 Thai chilies, halved
Take half of the shallots and add them to the sirloin, and mix well. Add this mixture to a hot skillet, and cook just until the juices run out. Add in the fish sauce, and lime juice, cooking just another minute. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Add in in the remaining shallots, scallions, cilantro, mint, and chilies. Mix well.
Place in serving bowls, and serve with Thai sticky rice.