Cioppino is a version of the Ligurian fish stew, ciuppin, which originated in the bay area of San Francisco. Like bouillabaisse, cioppino was first made by fishermen from the leftovers when their catch had been sold. It can be made with any variety of fish and seafood, and is then poured over chunks of stale bread to serve.

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Ingredients

  • 2 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) firm white fish fillets (hake, cod, snapper, ocean perch)
  • 375 g (13 oz) raw large prawns (shrimp)
  • 1 raw lobster tail (about 400 g/14 oz)
  • 12–15 black mussels
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green capsicum (pepper), finely chopped
  • 2–3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) white wine
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) tomato juice
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method

  1. Place the mushrooms in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces, removing the bones.
  2. Peel the prawns, leaving the tails intact. Gently pull out the dark vein from each prawn back, starting at the head end.
  3. Starting at the end where the head was, cut down the sides of the lobster shell on the underside with kitchen scissors. Pull back the flap, remove the meat and cut into small pieces.
  4. Scrub the mussels with a stiff brush and pull out the hairy beards. Discard any broken mussels, or open ones that don’t close when tapped on the work surface. Rinse well.
  5. Drain the mushrooms, squeeze dry and chop finely. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion, capsicum and garlic and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the mushrooms, tomato, wine, tomato juice, stock, bay leaf, parsley sprigs and basil. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Layer the fish and prawns in a large pan. Add the sauce, then cover and leave on low heat for 10 minutes, or until the prawns are pink and the fish is cooked. Add the lobster and mussels and simmer for another 4–5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard any unopened mussels. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
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