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Recipe Finder: Tasty and healthy cioppino

Fresh seafood is the key

By Julie Rothman
For The Baltimore Sun

10:46 AM EDT, July 2, 2013

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Jim Reichenberg of Rockville wrote for help locating a recipe that he said ran many years ago in The Baltimore Sun for cioppino, a seafood stew that was developed in the late 1800s by Portuguese and Italian fishermen who settled in San Francisco.

He said he made the dish several times and that it was "the best thing I have ever eaten." Unfortunately, he lost the recipe and has never been able to duplicate it. Aside from the traditional ingredients like fish, crab, clams and shrimp, the recipe called for Clamato juice in the base. He said the dish took several hours to make, "but oh, was it worth it."

We searched The Sun's archives and the closest recipe we found was for a streamlined cioppino made with Clamato juice that originally ran in January 1974 in a column called the Slim Gourmet written by Barbara Gibbons. Despite its reputation as a complicated dish, this tasty fish and shellfish stew is pretty easy to make.

The trick is using the highest-quality seafood. I wouldn't attempt this stew unless I had access to fresh fish and shellfish. As Gibbons points out, it is a great dish for the calorie-conscious and is excellent for serving a crowd. Cioppino is typically served with the shellfish still in their shells, making for somewhat messy eating. It's a lot of fun for an informal gathering. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for soaking up the juice and be sure to have lots of napkins available, too.

Requests

Kathy Blair from Somerset, Ky., is looking for a recipe she clipped years ago from a magazine for a meatloaf that, after it was mixed, was rolled flat, about an inch thick, and then mashed potatoes and celery leaves were spread over it. This was all rolled up like a jellyroll and baked. After baking and cooling a little you could slice the meatloaf. The meatloaf, mashed potatoes and celery leaves would appear as pinwheel slices. She said the flavor was unique because of the celery leaves.

Cioppino

Makes 8 servings

1 pound halibut or bass fillets or other firm white fish

1 pound jumbo shrimp

2 pounds lobster tails, split

2 pounds clams or mussels in shells

4 cups canned tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

2 cups Clamato juice

1 cup Chianti

1 cup water

2 teaspoons garlic salt

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon basil, oregano or Italian seasoning

If frozen, have all the seafood defrosted. Cut fish in two-inch chunks. Remove legs from shrimp and peel if desired (leaving shells on adds more flavor). Split the lobster tails as you would for broiling.

Put tomatoes and liquid in a large soup kettle, break up with a spoon. Add onions, peppers, Clamato juice, wine, water and all seasonings.

Simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add fish and lobster, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add shrimp and simmer another 5 minutes or until shrimp is pink. Take care not to overcook. Add the clams, cover and simmer for approximately 5 minutes or until the clams open. Discard any that do not open.

Serve in large bowls, shells included.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or email baltsunrecipefinder@gmail.com. If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.