About fish, shellfish and other sea creatures

Squeamish people, people disgusted by seafood and other weird nature creatures, you can stop reading now. For the rest of you, the cool people, I have seafood today.

Washington is near the coast and has a pretty big seafood tradition. In fact, there is a fish market that I have never been to (note to self: go the the fish market) and most restaurants have seafood in their menu. The most typical seafood products in restaurants are mussels, scallops, shrimp, tuna and salmon. The fish sections at the grocery stores have more things. Besides shellfish, tuna and salmon, you can also find tilapia, mahi-mahi, haddock, cod, halibut, flounder... These types of fish are very different from the ones found in Spain's fish stores. Another big difference between American and Spanish fish stores is that while here the fish is exposed clean, headless, boneless and even skinless, in Spain you normally have the whole fish and when you choose one, they prepare it for you the way you want it.

Every time I go to the store, I slowly approach the seafood section and look at what they have. However, the dry look of the fish and the lack of professionalism of the people that work there usually make me go away.

I wanted to make this seafood stew for a long time and it was the perfect opportunity to use my new beautiful red dutch oven that Scott got me for my birthday. Cioppino is a San Francisco fisherman stew, and as a big fan of seafood soups, I couldn't wait to make it. And I loved it!

In the recipe, you can also find how to make the seafood broth. You can also buy it at the store, but I recommend you to make it as it's really easy and your Cioppino will be so much better. Why don't you make it? It is really easy!

Cioppino (California seafood stew)
(For 6 people or so)

For the seafood stock
The heads and shells of the shrimp (1 lb,1/2 kg)
A fish bone (optional)

For the stew
1 fennel bulb
1/2 onion
1 leek
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leave
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1 28oz/ 800g can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup / 230ml white wine
2 1/2 cups / 600ml seafood stock
1lb / 1/2kg shrimp, heads and shells removed (used for the stock)
1lb / 1/2kg halibut, haddock or other white fish, skinless, cut in bite size pieces
1lb / 1/2kg mussels with shell, scrubbed, debearded
1lb / 1/2kg squid, cut in bite size pieces

Seafood stock
In a medium saucepan heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Add the shrimp shells and heads and sear them for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the fish bone (if you have it) and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let it cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour it through a mesh strainer over a pitcher or a big bowl. Press the solids over the strainer to let all the juices out. Discard solids.

Cioppino stew
Finely shop the fennel, onion, white part of leek and garlic. In a big pot heat 4 tbsp of olive oil and add the fennel, onion, leek, garlic, bay leave, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring ocassionaly.

Chop the tomatoes or crush them with your hands, discarding the juices. Add tomatoes, white wine and 2 1/2 cups of seafood stock to pot. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Add shrimp, mussels and fish. Cover and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add squid, cover and cook 5 more minutes, until the fish is done and the mussels have opened.

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