My birthday happens when you are putting up your Christmas tree, when the largest coldest storm of the year shows up, and when fresh crab is at it's peak in season here in the San Francisco bay area.
This tradition started a few years ago when my fellow Sagittartian friends and I decided to celebrate a huge musical jam birthday party together up in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Dr. Scott's house (His birthday is 3 days away from mine) Over 50 of the most talented and amazing musicians, home brewers, and silly fun folks gather to partake of this giant pot of seafood love and share in another year of good times, (I wish you could see all 8 of the Crabs in this shot, they are hiding underneath).
INGREDIENTS: (Note: This Ginormous pot in The Photo is a Cioppino for 50 people, ...this recipe below serves 6.. : )
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 canned or bottled oil cured anchovies, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 bay leafs
1/2 cup diced celery
1 medium to large onion, diced
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
1 cup good rose or red wine
3 T red wine vinegar
1 quart homemade fish or shrimp soup stock
2 cans of Organic diced tomatoes (or fresh if they look nice)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Dash or two of Tabasco Sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley
2-3 T fresh lemon juice
SEASONING MIX: (use your herb-designated coffee grinder)
1 T salt
1 T black or mixed whole pepper
2 T dried oregano
1 T fennel seeds
1 T fresh or dried rosemary leaves
Just about everything works in Cioppino and Italian fish Stew or Soup recipes, but here are our recommendations:
1/2 lb. medium shrimp (save shells for making seafood stock)
1/2 lb. scallops
24 fresh mussels (These in the photo are beautiful New Zeland Mussels, they have green and blue lined shells)
3 San Francisco Live dungeness crabs
4 King Crab Legs
1 Lobster tail (Optional)
1 lb. firm white fish, chopped in 1 inch pieces (cod, catfish, halibut, orange roughy, etc.)
16 fresh clams
Fresh bread of your choice, garlic baked if desired, and lots of it. (The juice is incredible)
COOKING MUSIC SELECTION: Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady
Heat olive oil to medium and add anchovies. Add garlic after about 3 minutes (this mixture should smell fabulous by now, might even bring a whole slew of hungry family members a-runnin’). Add bay leafs, onions, celery and bell pepper plus 1/2 of the seasoning mix. Sauté for 6-8 minutes. Add wine, vinegar, Tabasco and Worcestershire and reduce by 1/2, then add tomato sauce, basil and the rest of the seasoning mix. Simmer about 5 minutes then add the lemon juice.
Add the fish and shellfish, (As in me here in the ceremonial adding of the seafood in this photo) cover and cook about 7 more minutes. In this acase if you have to transport this to a party house, turn off the heat an hour before departure, throw in the seafood, place lid on pot and duct tape it shut.
I needed two people to carry this pot to the car, make sure you set it on a big towel for the road. When you get there, put on the stove and remove any of the mussels and clams that don't open. Heat up and you have perfectly cooked seafood Cioppino ready.
Sprinkle the completed Italian fish stew with parsley and chopped fresh Basil. Serve with fresh, crusty San Francisco style Italian french bread. (Butter it up and garlic it if you really want a taste treat!)