Cioppino a delicious tomato-based seafood broth with poached fish and shellfish may sound easy to prepare but there are some important steps to achieve good results. The first step is to create a flavorful seafood stock, the next step is to cook the soup base then finally add the fish and shellfish of your choice to cook through prior to serving.
You will need about 6 cups of shells from shrimp, lobster and crab to prepare a flavorful seafood stock. I collect and freeze the shells until I have enough to make a stock and make it in advance as it takes about an hour. Another option is to a make fish stock with a few pounds of fish bones or purchase prepared fish stock. Whichever option you choose a good stock is the first step to a great Cioppino.
What Is the Benefit of Using a Steam Oven to Make Cioppino?
Once you have prepared the stock the next step is to cook the soup base and finally the fish and shellfish are added to the soup prior to serving. The soup base consists of a combination of sauteed onion, shallots, fennel, garlic, tomato paste while wine and of course the delicious seafood stock. Since all the flavor really comes from the soup base the fish and shellfish only need light cooking and this is where the Steam oven comes in.
If you are preparing enough Cioppino for 4 - 6 people you need a good-sized pan that can accommodate all the fish and shellfish and ideally keep everything from being smashed together without overcooking delicate fish or shrimp.
Steaming or poaching shrimp, scallops, and chunks of fish in the Steam oven then adding them to the soup base with the residual cooking liquid adds more flavor to the soup and results in perfectly cooked seafood.
Another advantage is that the soup base can be prepared in advance and will only require heating and adding the cooked seafood prior to serving. That makes it an ideal dish for a dinner party as there is so little last minute cooking needed.
Cioppino with Crab Claws Mussels or Clams
If using crab claws, mussels or clams, in the shell they can be added directly to the soup base or steamed in the steam oven and added to the soup. I like to add crab claws, mussels and clams directly to the soup to add another layer of flavor to the soup but they can also be cooked in the steam oven in the Steam mode.
Preparing the Seafood Without a Steam Oven
If you don’t have a Steam oven, you can still cook chunks of fish, scallops and shrimp in the oven. Use either the Convection Roast mode at 400F degrees for 5 minutes or the Convection Broil mode at 450F for 2 - 3 minutes.
The early Italian settlers in San Francisco not only created this wonderful tradition of Cioppino from their fishing boats on the waterfront, they paired it with the delicious sourdough bread they brought to the Bay Area, two amazing culinary treats that endure to this day. So don’t forget to make some sourdough garlic bread to serve with your Cioppino.
Being housebound due to bad weather is hard on everyone but one way to keep everyone happy is to keep delicious treats emerging from the kitchen. In my next post I will review baking muffins in Convection vs Regular Bake and include a great recipe for healthy snack muffins.
Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast