Servings: six to eight.
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Because you’ll be using red wine to make the stew base, this is a great chance to actually serve red wine with fish. John Ash likes to serve the same wine—or at least a wine from the same grape—that he used to make the recipe. Just be sure the wine is young, fruity, and not overly tannic. (Fortunately, this usually translates to “not too expensive.”) If you go with Pinot Noir, try Gallo of Sonoma ($13) or Fetzer Five Rivers Ranch ($13), both from California. If you opt for Zinfandel, the 2002 Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin “Beastly Old Vines” from California ($16) would be my choice. Or, for a nod to cioppino’s Italian roots, try Barbera, a delicious Italian wine with zippy acidity and juicy fruit. I like the 2001 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti ($16) or the 2002 Pasquero Paitin Barbera d’Alba “Serra Boella” ($18).
My guests were in the kitchen when I was making the dish and asked me not to strain the veggies. I wish I had, for the carrots were soggy lumps and the fennel couldn't be distinguished from anything else, though the broth was superb and one of my guests went back for his third helping. I used Pacific gray cod, which retained its white colour, along with red snapper, clams, mussels, and shrimp. Next time, I'll use prawns instead. The garlic toast is a great addition. I'll certainly make this dish again.
I made this over the week end and thought the dish was very good. But not over the top. The broth was flavorfull but several of my guests commented on the lack of actual tomato bits in the soup. What I was most dissapointed in was what happened to the white fish and scallops. The fish turned sort of grey, I assume from all the red wine in the broth. It tasted good but not very apetizing. Not sure I would try it again.
This is one of THE most delicious recipes I have ever made. The broth comes out so good that you could make it just for the broth alone. The combination of the succulent broth and the seafood makes for the best seafood stew you will ever taste. I live on the east coast so couldn't find the right crab but I added plenty of different kinds of clams and mussels. It is a labor of love to make but making the broth a day or two ahead is a good idea. Then you just need to add the seafood and cook briefly. Very easy to do on the day your company arrives. I will never lose this recipe. I have copies stashed all over and several family members have them as well.
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