Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Sep 27, 2011


Libations used: 1 1/2 cups red wine
Libations left over: About half the bottle, so serve with dinner or have a glass while the stew is simmering.
It was a gloomy, slightly chilly weekend by the ocean in Santa Monica, and that kind of weather gets me in the mood for hearty soups overloaded with seafood.  One of my favorite seafood stews is Cioppino, which sounds like an Italian dish, but actually hails from San Francisco.  It was developed in the late 1800s by Portuguese and Italian fishermen in the north bay of San Fran and they would actually made it on their boats.  This particular recipe from Gourmet doesn't require you to whip up some stew on a dinghy, but you can get creative.  I've had this dish served with king crab, squid, mussels, and other kinds of fish, so just add whatever seafood you like.  As always, I got my catch of the day from Santa Monica Seafood, because as much as I would like to spend all morning casting my net out to sea, this Lush Chef has other things to do.

Cioppino - serves 6
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried red hot pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
  • 1 28-32 oz can whole plum tomatoes - drain and reserve the juice and chop the tomatoes
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (1 lb) king crab leg (I left this out because it's freakin' expensive)
  • 18 small (1 1/2 lbs) littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 lb skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 16-20 large shrimp (1 lb), shelled with tails left on
  • 3/4 lb sea scallops 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 Tbs finely chopped fresh basil
- Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in olive oil in an 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until onions are softened (about 5 min). 
- Add bell pepper and tomato paste, stirring for about 1 minute.
- Add wine and boil until reduced by about half (5-6 min).
- Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice and chicken broth and simmer covered for about 30 minutes.
- While stew is simmering, hack crab leg through shell into 2-3 inch pieces.
- Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer covered, until clams just open (5-10 min), checking every minute after 5 minutes to transfer opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon.  Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.
- Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp and scallops with salt and pepper and add to stew, simmer covered until just cooked through (about 5 min).
- Discard bay leaf and return clams to pot.
- Gently stir in parsley and basil.
- Serve with focaccia or sourdough bread rounds.