Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Cioppino

For most, Valentine's day is all about decadence, sharing amazing food with the one you love, exchanging gifts, spending time together. Generally this means going out to eat for an overly expensive dinner. Chris and I have a different tradition: we cook together. This tradition started last year (so I guess it's only now becoming a tradition!) mostly because we've got Christmas in December, Chris' birthday in Jan, and mine in March, do we really need an excuse to go out for ANOTHER expensive dinner, and exchange MORE gifts?! No. But unlike most meals we cook, we go all out for Valentine's Day, because we figure no matter what you end up making, it will inevitably be 1/3 as expensive as going out. Maybe less.

Since Chris and I both love seafood, this year we decided to go with cioppino. Why cioppino? Because you can put whatever seafood you want in it! All different kinds, as much as you want! What is better than crab and scallops and seabass and mussels?? It really doesn't get much more seafood-indulgent than that!

Valentine's Day Cioppino

This recipe is courtesy of Epicurious, but I will post our version since we altered it a bit.
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 can (28oz) whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
  • 1 can (10oz) clams
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large king crab legs, thawed
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 10oz seabass fillet, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound scallops
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • Toasted sourdough bread for dipping.

Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clams and juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 90 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Go sit down and watch some TV with your honey. The olympics are on!

Somewhere toward the end of the simmering, hack crab legs through shell into 2- to 3-inch pieces with a large heavy knife. Cut up seabass and scallops to bite-sized chunks. Lock kitty in the bedroom since he won't leave the seafood alone.

Add crab pieces and mussels to stew and simmer, covered, until mussels just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened mussels to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened mussels after 10 minutes.) Lightly season fish fillets and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return mussels to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil.

Serve cioppino immediately in large soup bowls with toasted sourdough bread and a delightful glass of wine. Tonight we drank the Pahlmeyer Jason Pinot Noir 2005 that I gave Chris for Christmas, but I won't go into that now. It deserves its own post!

Now this is a dish worth celebrating with!


  1. Wow! What an amazing meal!!! I want to come to your house for Valentine's Day next year! Love you both!