Here on the Monterey Peninsula, good seafood is easy to come by. When crab season starts in November, my thoughts turn to cioppino, a rich, tomato-based fisherman’s stew with origins in the San Francisco area.
Recently, Pete and Suzette came down for a visit and we fired up the SousVide Supreme to give this recipe a try. It worked perfectly. Best of all, not an ounce of the sweet liquid given up by the shellfish was lost, thanks to the sous vide technique.
Feel free to add or substitute chunks of firm white fish, such as halibut or mahi mahi, if you don’t want an all-shellfish dish.
One word of caution: If you use mussels or clams in your cioppino, they’ll need to be cooked on the stove top, as they won’t open at the lower temperature necessary to cook the other seafood in the water oven. Simply steam them until they open, then add them in their shells to the bag with the other ingredients. At 142°F, they cannot overcook! (By the way, if you’re interested in cooking mussels sous vide on their own, check out Mussels Provençal, another great way to expand your sous vide repertoire.)
Serve the cioppino in shallow bowls with lots of crusty bread and a crisp white wine.
- Preheat the water bath to 142°F (61°C).
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the diced fennel, leek, and celery. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until all of the liquid evaporates. Set the mixture aside to cool. The vegetables can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate until ready to use.
- Divide the shellfish among 4 large, zip-lock food bags. Divide the sautéed vegetable mixture among the bags. Divide the diced tomatoes among the bags. Add 6 tablespoons clam juice, 2 tablespoons chicken stock, ½ bay leaf, ½ tablespoon tarragon, and ½ teaspoon ground fennel to each bag. Seal the bags using the water displacement method.
- Cook for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Transfer the contents of each bag to a warm, shallow bowl. Discard the bay leaves. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of parsley and serve hot.