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Seafood Stew with Lobster, Crab and Halibut (Cioppino)
The traditional method of making Cioppino, Seafood Stew, is fairly straightforward. First, you create a flavorful broth then add the seafood and simmer for a few minutes before serving, but key to good flavor is a good fish or seafood stock, something the Italian fishermen who created this recipe had. In this version we begin by making the seafood stock then cooking the soup base, but we cook some of the seafood in the Convection or Convection Steam Oven. Why? Well when we broil or roast the fish in the oven the results are more flavorful and it’s easier to handle.
A good seafood stock will of course give the best result, and it does take a hour or more to cook but it can be made in advance. Purchase shrimp in the shell and use the shells for the stock. Adding in some lobster tail shells and the smaller pieces of the crab claws will yield a very good stock, and you can use the shrimp, crab and lobster in the soup.
6 - cups assorted shellfish shells, shrimp, lobster and crab
1 - medium yellow onion, chopped
1 - carrot, chopped into large rounds
1 - celery stalk, chopped into 2” pieces
½ - cup dry white wine
2 - Tbsps tomato paste
2 - sprigs each thyme & Italian parsley
1 - bay leaf
10 - whole peppercorns.
3 - tablespoons olive oil
1 - medium yellow onion, diced
2 - shallots, diced
1 - fennel bulb, fronds & core removed, thinly sliced
4 - cloves garlic, minced
½ - teaspoon dried red chile flakes
4 - tablespoons tomato paste
1 - 28oz can whole tomatoes
1 - cup white wine
5 - cups shellfish stock
1 - bay leaf
2 - lobster tails, shell removed, flesh cut into 1” chunks (use the shell for the stock)
1- lb shell on uncooked large shrimp (use the shell for the stock)
½ - lb small crab claws and shell (for the stock)
½ -lb large crab claws for the soup
½ -lb manilla clams
1 ½ - lbs firm fleshed fish, such as halibut or rock cod, cut into 2” chunks
½ - teaspoon mixed Italian seasoning
1 - lemon zest only
Place the shells in a large stock pot and add enough water to cover the shells by 1”.
Heat the water over moderate heat and keep it cooking at a very gentle heat just barely simmering for at least an hour. You should only see some bubbles come to the surface.
Avoid stirring the ingredients to keep the stock clear during this time but keep skimming and discarding the foam that rises to the surface. Cooking the shells slowly this way without stirring will yield a flavorful stock.
Once the stock is no longer releasing foam, add the wine, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, herbs and peppercorns. Continue simmering but do not boil for another 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard all the shells, season the stock with salt to taste and you are ready to make Cioppino.
Heat a large pan over medium heat, add the oil and saute the onion for a few minutes. Stir in the shallots and fennel and cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes to soften the fennel. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 2 minutes before adding in the tomato paste, tomatoes, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Simmer for 30 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes as they soften.
Heat the oven in the Convection Roast or Convection Steam Mode 375 degrees.
Place the cubed fish, lobster tails and shrimp in a stainless mixing bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and season with the Italian seasoning, lemon zest kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread onto a rimmed baking pan and cook for 6 - 8 minutes. Add the clams and crab claws to the soup and simmer gently, when the fish and shellfish are ready gently stir into the soup together with the pan juices.
This recipe serves 6 and don’t forget the perfect accompaniment to Cioppino is sourdough garlic bread.
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2 cups cream or half and half
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
5 egg yolks (large eggs)
1/2 cup sugar
Additional sugar for caramelizing
Heat the Steam oven in the Convection Steam Mode at 220F (104C)
Combine the cream, vanilla bean and salt in a heavy pan and cook over low heat until hot. Remove from the heat and let it steep for a few minutes before discarding the vanilla bean.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until light. Stir a quarter of the cream into the mixture then pour the sugar-egg mixture into the cream and stir.
Place 6, 4-oz ramekins in the Steam oven perforated pan or onto a rimmed baking sheet and fill each one with the prepared custard. Slide the pan into the oven and cook for 40 - 50 minutes until the custards are set. Cool the custards before refrigerating for at least 6 hours prior to serving.
To Serve the Custard
Adjust the top rack in the oven so the ramekins will sit 2 - 3" below the heating element.
Heat the oven in the Broil Mode at 450F (232C) or on Medium for 5 minutes.
Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer over each ramekin. Slide into the oven and cook for about 5 minutes until the sugar melts.