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Today's Special: Spicy Crab Stew

Today's Special: Spicy Crab Stew

Cioppino is a slow cooked fish stew with a tomato based broth. Although the name sounds Italian, the stew actually was born here on the piers of San Francisco. At the end of a smelly day selling fish, the men (many of whom were of Italian descent) would throw the unsold fish into a big pot to make a hearty and hot stew. A quick stew is a food oxy moron (stew is usually considered to be left over the stove for several hours), but this dish can be prepared in 45 minutes. The key to making this version so rapidly is to use a really good fish stock that will flavor the fish while it is poached in the liquid. To take a peek at the recipe,

Spicy Crab Stew
From The Working Cook: Fast and Fresh Meals for Busy People by Tara Duggan

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes + more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
1 cup diced onion
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3/4 cup white wine
3 cups fish stock, (a good choice is Perfect Additions fish stock, which is in the freezer section of specialty supermarkets)
1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
8 to 12 mussels, scrubbed
3/4 pound firm white fish, such as halibut, bones and skin removed and cut into 2-inch chunks
4 large shrimp, shell on
1 cleaned and cracked crab, legs separated and body cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
Sliced Italian bread, to serve

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add the chile flakes, oregano, onion and celery and saute until tender, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the white wine and stir to remove the brown bits on the bottom.
  3. Briefly bring to a boil, then add the stock, tomato sauce and 1 cup of water, and return it to a boil. As the broth warms, season to taste with salt and pepper. (The broth needs to be seasoned well so it can season the fish as it cooks.)
  4. Add the mussels, fish, shrimp and crab, and cook on medium heat. The fish, mussels and shrimp should be cooked through at about the same time, 2-3 minutes, just long enough to gently heat the crab.
  5. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning with more chile flakes, salt and pepper, if needed.
  6. Place in bowls, distributing the seafood evenly, and serve immediately with the bread, crab crackers and tons of napkins.

Serves 4.

Per serving: 330 calories, 35 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 72 mg cholesterol, 868 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

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