Cioppino: a fine kettle of fish

  • 4 tbsp (3 turns around the pan in a slow stream) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 to 3 flat fillets of anchovies, drained
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 240ml good quality dry white wine
  • 1 (400ml) container chicken stock
  • 1 (900g) tin chunky style crushed tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 675g cod, cut into 5cm chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 large prawns, ask for deveined easy-peel or peel and devein
  • 8 sea scallops
  • 16 to 20 raw mussels, scrubbed
  • A loaf of fresh, crusty bread, for mopping

Serves: 4 healthy servings

1) In a large pot over moderate heat combine oil, crushed pepper, anchovies, garlic, and bay. Let anchovies melt into oil. The anchovies act as a natural salt, the pepper flakes will infuse the oil, providing heat.

2) Chop celery and onion near stove and add to the pot as you work. Saute vegetables for a few minutes to begin to soften and add wine to the pot. Reduce wine a minute, then add chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, and parsley. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to medium low.

3) Season fish chunks with salt and pepper. Add fish and simmer 5 mins, giving the pot a shake now and then. Do not stir your soup with a spoon after the addition of fish or you will break it up. Add prawn, scallops, and mussels and cover pot. Cook 10 mins, giving the pot a good shake now and again.

4) Remove the lid and discard any mussels that do not open. Carefully ladle stew into shallow bowls and pass bread at the table.

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