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Feast of the Seven Fishes Cioppino

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3 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
coarse salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup Pernod
1-1/2 cups dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups clam juice (from 2 8-ounce bottles)
5 cups fish stock or water
1 bay leaf
12 little neck clams (about 1 to 1-1/2 pounds), scrubbed
24 mussels (about 1 pound), scrubbed and debearded
1 (1-pound) King crab leg (defrosted, if frozen), scrubbed and cut into 3-inch sections
1 pound scallops (about 12), abductor muscle removed
1 pound assorted firm, white-fleshed fish fillets, such as tilapia, catfish, halibut, and/or cod, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
1 pound medium shrimp (about 30), deveined, shells intact
Sourdough bread, for serving

Warm oil in a vary large pot over medium heat. Add onions, fennel, and garlic. Season with salt. Sauté until vegetables are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add red-pepper flakes. Stir in tomato paste. Add Pernod and wine and bring to a boil. Simmer vigorously for 5 minutes to cook off alcohol.

Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, fish stock, and bay leaf. Bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Check seasoning.

Add clams, mussels, and crab. Cover and cook until clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.

Season scallops, fish, and shrimp with salt and nestle in stew. Cover and cook just until scallops and fish have turned opaque and shrimp pink, about 5 minutes. Check seasoning. Stir very carefully so not to break up fish.

To serve, divide seafood into bowls and ladle over with broth and vegetables. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve with sourdough bread.

Yield: 6 servings.

 

- Courtesy of Joseph Erdos

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