Seafood Swimming in a Fine Red Wine, A Cioppino Delight!

A Cioppino Delight and Friends!

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Completed Cioppino with gluten-free bread (top left), ingredients (bottom left) and my friend Brain helping me cook! (right)

Just last month I had a bunch of good friends over for a dinner party. The theme was Mediterranean and everyone came dressed in white.  We started off with warmed olives & herbs, homemade humus & eggplant dip, and fennel and apple slaw.

The main course was the Cioppino with my favourite homemade gluten free bread (check out the recipe here but this time I made it without the olives and almonds). And then after the Cioppino, we finished off the night with some baked apples with fig & walnuts with homemade coconut ice-cream! Yum! The Cioppino I made has two parts:
  1. The fish stock made from scratch (If you choose not to do so, you can use clam juice or purchase some prepared fish stock).
  2. The Cioppino itself
The Verdict of Cioppino Delight?
I was checking out a few Cioppino recipes online and most had instructions to simmer the cioppino tomato wine base for 20 minutes. I decided to simmer it well over an hour. The wait for the longer simmer was well worth it – it was so rich and full bodied at an hour when compared to what it tasted like at 20 minutes. I also used a tad more expensive bottle of wine. I’m not a believer of using cheap wine for cooking. The homemade fish broth was superb and all of the seafood was cooked just fine and soaked up the base with love (except the clams…see my lesson learned below ). I really love how the soup is presented in a rustic way, especailly with the full corn piece.

I think the Cioppino was well received from my group of friends and everyone was helping themselves to more gluten free bread to dip in it!

 

So what was my lesson learned? Next time I make this Cioppino, I would change my timing of adding in the seafood. I originally threw the clams, shrimp, scallops and halibut all in at the same. The clams did not open up as much as they should have and I was afraid to overcook the other seafood. Next time I will throw in the clams first, let it cook for about 4-5 minutes then add in all other seafood (I adjusted the recipe below to reflect so).

Fish Stock

  • Equal part fish scrap and bones
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch celery, halved
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • A pinch salt
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Sprigs of oregano

Add all ingredients in a large pot. Top with water and bring to boil then lower to a simmer (just under boiling) for 2 hours. Sieve out the vegetables, herbs and bones and you should have a clear tasty broth!

Cioppino Delight Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds halibut, cut into inch cubes
  • 1 pound (or more) of large shrimp
  • 3 pounds little neck clams
  • 2 pounds scallops
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped (1 large onion)
  • 1 cup bell pepper, chopped (1 large bell pepper)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 x 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in juice
  • 6 cups fish stock
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 bay leafs, whole
  • 1 teaspoon lemon thyme, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon  basil, chopped fine
  • 1 dash of salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried chile peppers
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley for garnish
Cioppino Instructions
  1. Split the shrimp shells down the back and remove the black vein. Alternatively, you can shell the shrimps and devein them. Shell-on imparts more flavour; shell-off is easier to eat. Cut out the tough mussel in the scallops if your fish monger has not done so. Also take any bones out of halibut if any.
  2. In a deep 8-quart covered pot, sauté onions, garlic and bell pepper on medium heat in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, red wine, fish stock, the herbs, chile peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle boil, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove bay leaves. Taste and correct seasoning.
  3. Add the clams and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the halibut, shrimp and cook, covered, until shrimp are bright pink, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook.
  5. Serve in large bowls, shells included. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve with a great piece of bread to dip into the Cioppino with! Enjoy!

Soup Mistress Rating for Cioppino Delight:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Ocean Wise Chowder with Halibut at Hapa Izakaya in Vancouver

On Monday evening, I went to Hapa Izakaya in Vancouver (Coal Harbor location) for my good friend Sherry Cooper’s birthday dinner. We had a nice time, enjoyed some great food and wine. I am a huge fan of Hapa Izakaya (been many times) and highly recommend it.

I decided to have Hapa Izakaya’s Award-Winning Ocean Wise Chowder, it sounded so scrumptios with BC halibut, scallop, bacon, dashi and cream.

Oh cream, luscious cream! You make me work out harder the next day on the treadmill – but so worth it.

The Verdict of Hapa Izakaya’s Ocean Wise Chowder? The chowder had a wonderful velvety texture and yet at same time, very delicate flavor for broth. The chunks of halibut were nice and flaky, but a little sparse (I shouldn’t blame the restaurant on the lack of halibut though because the price of halibut in general is ridiculous and it won’t get better with the fishing quota dropping 8% this year, read more here). Like most Japanese food, the chowder was not overpowering but had a very authentic taste leaving me wanting more. I think there were some tiny pieces of fried wonton on top as well (at least, that is what the waitress told me) – they were very crispy and added another level to the chowder.

I definitely want to recreate this soup in near future. Afterall, it is halibut season and I will be picking up my special halibut order from 1fsh2fish soon! Can’t wait.

I was curious to figure out how the chowder had a nice delicate broth. Most chowders are made with broths from fish carcass, clam juice or crustation shells. But this chowder was made with Dashi.

Hmmn, so what is Dashi?

It is a japanese soup stock most commonly made by heating water containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented bonito) to near-boiling, then straining the resultant liquid. As an alternate there is also a powder Dashi. Read more on Dashi here.

I found a decent blog post on how to make Dashi (image above is from the original source). It seems simple enough and I would rather make it myself versus resorting to the powder version: www.thekitchn.com/japanese-cooking-dashi-57749

Soup Mistress Rating for Hapa Izakaya’s Ocean Wise Chowder Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.75/5) 

 

Garlic Broth With Pan Seared Halibut

Garlic Broth with Halibut

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The Completed Garlic Broth With Seared Halibut.

Wow, today we had a windy day here in the lower mainland of Vancouver with gusts as high as 80 km/h! I walked my dog this morning and we were blown away a few times with some gusts. I was chilled right down to the bone all day. I thought it was a perfect day to have hot garlic broth with some halibut.

I had my eye on this recipe which originally called for scallops, but I thought it would be great to substitute it with halibut pieces. Halibut is a very beautiful fish, I wanted to celebrate it in a delicate yet tasty broth versus hiding it in a soup with many ingredients (like a chowder).

Garlic Broth With Pan Seared Halibut Ingredients:

  • 1- 1/2 large garlic bulb separated into peeled cloves
  • 2 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 carrot, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 15 peppercorns
  • 6 parsley stems
  • 1/2 red thai chile pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 cups water
  • 8 oz halibut
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

Garlic Broth With Pan Seared Halibut Instructions:

  1. Combine garlic cloves, celery, carrot, onion, peppercorns, parsley stems, red thai chile, tomato paste and water in a saucepan with good pinch of salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer partially covered for 45-50 minutes.
  3. Strain in a fine sieve into clean saucepan. Keep warm over low heat.
  4. Cut halibut in small chunks
  5. Season halibut on both sides with salt and pepper.
  6. Heat up olive oil over medium-high. When pan is hot, cook the fish for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn, reduce the heat to medium, and cook about 3-4 minutes longer, until the fish is firm/opaque in the center and browned on both sides.
  7. Divide halibut pieces among bowls
  8. Ladle soup over the scallops, then garnish with cilantro leaves. And enjoy!

Original Recipe: Soup Bowl, An inspiring Collection of Soups, Broths, and Chowders,  Seared Scallops in Garlic broth (page 195)

What I Changed From Original Recipe: The first time I tried the original recipe the broth was a bit tasteless as well as clear (didn’t look to appealing). I adjusted the original recipe a fair bit:

  • Doubled carrot and celery.
  • Used more garlic and peppercorns.
  • Used halibut instead of scallops.
  • Added tomato paste.
  • I peeled the cloves (original recipe called for unpeeled).
  • Added red chile pepper to give it a tad of heat.
  • Simmered for longer period to extract the flavors more from garlic as well as vegetables.

Soup Mistress Rating for Garlic Broth With Pan Seared Halibut:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.25/5)