Cioppino is a Christmas Eve tradition in my family. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother would throw it together every Christmas Eve and serve it with salad, white rice, and freshly baked bread rolls. It is a dish everyone expects when the holidays come around. Cioppino is the Italian equivalent of Paella seafood casserole.
My sisters and I would normally join her in making this dish. Now that my grandmother is gone, it is my turn to take on the cioppino and prepare it for Christmas Eve. Thankfully my grandmother left helpful notes on the recipe, like to triple to recipe in order to feed the 12 person group that gathers at her house on Christmas Eve. And to cut the salt in half to avoid it being too salty. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can prepare the sauce a few days before and freeze it. Then on the day you are ready to serve, simply heat up the sauce and pour over the fresh seafood, cooking it for about 20 minutes more. You serve it immediately, but it also reheats very well as leftovers.
Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
1 minced large onion
1/2 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced green pepper
1 or 2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 small bayleaf
6 black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine (find a cheap dry wine like pinot grigio)
2 lb fresh fish (halibut, cod, sea bass, or rockfish), cut into 2-inch squares
1/2 lb mussels in the shell (live and scrubbed)
1/2 lb clams in the shell
2 large king crab legs
1 lb shelled raw shrimp
1/2 lb scallops
Cook the onions, celery, green pepper, garlic cloves and olive oil in a large deep pan until translucent. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, bayleaf, peppercorns, salt and pepper; stir. Cover the pan and simmer for one hour, thinning with hot water as needed.
Add white wine and cook for 10 minutes, bringing it to a boil.
Place the seafood in layers in a deep stock pot and pour the boiling sauce over it. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately.