The feast of the seven fishes is a traditional Italian-American meal that's enjoyed on Christmas Eve and features seven different fish courses. Since cooking seven fish dishes for one meal is a lot of work, I recommend making a dinner that's inspired by the custom, but with half the amount of fish. With its white fish, shrimp, and Dungeness crab, this oven-baked cioppino recipe is perfect.
Unlike most seafood stews, which are thrown together just before serving, this version requires the fish to sit in the sauce overnight. Because the raw shrimp and whitefish are bathed in the rich tomato sauce, the resulting dish is wildly flavorful and the seafood is succulent and plump. It's wonderful for holiday entertaining because the night of a dinner party, the only thing you have to do is toss it in the oven. Seriously, this cioppino is a must make, so learn the technique.
2 tablespoons olive oil Serves 8-10.
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large head fennel, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large leek, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
1 green pepper, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups bottled clam juice
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds local thick-fleshed fresh fish (we used a mixture of red snapper and black cod), cut into 2-inch chunks
2 Dungeness crabs, about 3 pounds total, cracked and cleaned (see Note)
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Home-baked croutons, crostini or fresh crusty bread, for serving
Note: Using whole crab means you'll get your hands dirty when eating this, but that's half the fun. If you'd prefer a cleaner presentation, you can substitute about 3/4 pound of fresh crab meat, but this can get expensive.
2 tablespoons olive oil