Cioppino is an Italian-American creation originating from San Francisco, California. At its core, Cioppino is a medley of seafood such as (but not limited to) crab, shrimp, clams, mussels and squid cooked in a spiced tomato broth that also incorporates anise notes from fresh fennel and fennel seeds. The recipe is incredibly simple, as most seafood-centric recipes are, since the cooking time is so minimal. You spend the majority of the cooking time building this aromatic sauce base which the seafood eventually cooks in, imparting and lending to it their own sweet ocean flavours. Served alongside crispy toasted bread and more chili flakes, it's hard to imagine a hands on food experience more satisfying from start to finish.
Cioppino 6 Steps
Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan on medium heat, add in olive oil as well as the butter. Once the butter has melted add in the diced fennel, diced onion, diced red bell pepper and cook until softened, approximately 8-10 minutes.
Add in the minced garlic, chili flakes, fennel seeds, bay leaves, anchovy fillets and cook for 2 minutes or until the anchovy fillets have fully dissolved. Deglaze with the white wine, and reduce this by half.
Once the wine has reduced, add in the seafood stock as well as cans of crushed tomato, bring to a boil then return to a rolling simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking for another 10 minutes uncovered.
Maintain the rolling simmer of the sauce, add the clams and cook covered for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes carefully add the remaining seafood, starting with the shrimp, scallops, lobster tails, mussels and then the halibut pieces. Once again cover with the lid and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until all the seafood has cooked through. Both the clams and the mussels should be open at this point, discard any closed ones.
Top with the rough chopped dill and carefully ladle into bowls so as to not break the pieces of fish. Serve immediately with toasted crusty bread and additional chili flakes.