From what I have been told, I have loved and devoured clams from a very young age. Where other kids were asking for spaghettiOs and hot dogs, I preferred clams. Now as I have gotten older we spend quite a bit of time on the coast here in the Pacific Northwest, digging for clams, looking for oysters, fishing and crabbing. Last summer when Sunset Magazine sent us on a 4 day road trip to the Oregon Coast we rented a house boat where you could fish and crab right out your window!
When it comes to eating all of this bounty, I always like to keep the cooking process simple. Oysters are perfect when topped with a quick sauce of melted butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and hot sauce. Or honestly, a good splash of wine and shallots does the trick too. Clams and crab I will eat by the handful dipped in rich butter. Fish, whether that is a white fish like halibut or something else like salmon or sturgeon, I prefer a simple steaming method to keep them fresh and moist. And when we find ourselves with a good mix of seafood, we make cioppino.
The key to a good cioppino, or really any soup or stew, is making sure to build a good broth. Because really after that, it’s all pretty simple. Throw 4-5 pounds of fresh seafood into the pot and you have a quick and delicious dinner. This broth is a mix of good olive oil, garlic, onions, pepper flakes, rich tomato paste, clam juice, stock and Muir Glen Whole Tomatoes. From there you can experiment and begin to add your own flavors and spices, like dried oregano to crushed fennel seeds.
Serve this with a good glass of wine, a lot of crusty bread, and a big handful of fresh parsley on top. And always make sure to top with a bit of good olive oil.
This post was sponsored by Muir Glen, thank you for supporting.
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium white onions, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 28ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup stock (ideally fish, but chicken or vegetable will work too)
2 king crab legs
1 pound clams, scrubbed
1 pound halibut or other white fish, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
bread to serve
*other add-in options: 1 pound of scallops and 1 pound of mussels
In a large dutch oven over medium heat add the olive oil, garlic, onions, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and cook until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for another minute, then add the wine and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. Using a wooden spoon to begin breaking down the tomatoes. Stir in the clam juice and broth, bring to a simmer and cover the pot cooking for 30 minutes. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and cut into 2” pieces, set aside.
Crack the crag legs and remove the crab meat breaking into 2” pieces. Add the crab and the clams to the pot and cover cooking for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and begin removing the clams as they open, placing them in a medium size bowl. Once all of the clams have opened and you have removed them from the pot, add the fish and shrimp, cover and bring to a simmer, cook for 5 more minutes.
To serve, remove the bay leaf and top with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh parsley. Serve with crusty bread.
*To make this heartier, often times I will make a batch of rice and serve the cioppino over the rice.