Wednesday, December 29, 2010


In my religion, in my family, and in my Italian heritage, Christmas Eve is often known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The origin of this feast is found in Souther Italy, however the exact meaning of it has several possible answers. The tradition stands though that on the eve before Christ was born, Italian Catholics celebrate with seven different seafood dishes. Each year in my family we pay homage to this idea by creating our entree for the night around a seafood theme. Rarely do we actually meet the seven fishes goal, but always end up with a tasty treat. This year we decided to have Cioppino for Christmas Eve, a perfect and delicious seafood stew.

Cioppino roots back to the 1800's, when Portuguese and Italian fishermen in San Francisco would combine the leftovers of their catches of the day into a tomato based stew. This would often be served with bread (more often than not sour dough-come on it is San Fran- or baguette) on the side. I love these types of dishes, rustic and hearty, geared towards simple preparation but delicious and filling meals.

I was actually surprised at how easy it was to make Cioppino, I had gotten it in my head that it would be complex and stressful- I think I have that opinion about everything that involves seafood. I am, apparently, intimidated by cooking seafood. There you have it. However, Cioppino...easy- peasy!

I loosely followed the recipe from this website ( ), but added more wine, and a bit more fresh herbs and used only littleneck clams, shrimp, scallops, and scrod in my preparation. The base of the soup however had wonderful flavor, with depth to it from the variety of herbs, onion and garlic, and a wonderful rounded finish from the wine. The best part of this dish though was that I was able to start the broth early in the day and let it simmer until it was time to eat, I added the seafood and moments later I was serving a tasty meal to my family.

Cioppino is an easy entertaining meal, quick to prepare, but able to serve with flourish. This one is definitely a keeper!

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