This dish is influenced by my years in San Francisco but has my twist on a San Francisco favorite.
When you buy your fish for this dish ask if the fish head and bones from your red fish are available. This will make your stock much better for your cioppino. This dish is still very good if you don't add the fish stock and just add water because of the other flavors from the chorizo and fennel.
The Spanish-style chorizo is a key ingredient as well. It can be found in specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods or at Battistoni.
• 8 oz. chorizo (Spanish-style sausage), diced
• 1 medium white onion, finely diced
• 1 red bell pepper diced
• 3 qts. fish stock or water
• 1/2 cup tomato paste
• 1/2 cup dark roux
• 12 oz. canned diced tomatoes
• 4 tbls. minced garlic
• 2 teas. fennel seeds
• 1 tbls. dry basil
• 1/2 teas. saffron threads
• 2 teas. crushed red pepper
• 2 lbs. small clams in the shell (scrub well)
• 3 lbs. red fish cut into 2-inch cubes
• 2 lbs. shelled blue crab claws
To make a dark roux, pour ¼ cup of oil in cast iron skillet. Add half cup of flour, mix with wire whisk, and cook over medium heat until chocolate brown--not burned--stirring frequently.
Place 6 qt. soup pot on medium heat.
Add diced chorizo and cook until it sizzles and pops, then add onion and bell pepper and sauté for three minutes.
Add 3 qts. of fish stock or water and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to a simmer and add tomato paste and dark roux and stir until dissolved.
Add diced tomatoes, garlic, fennel seeds, dry basil, saffron threads, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Simmer for one hour.
Add clams one half hour before serving. Add the fish just 10 minutes before serving and then add the crab claws 5 minutes before serving. Bring to a boil and serve right away.