First developed in San Francisco in the late 1800s, this stew relies upon the seafood available to Italian-American fishermen at the time, much in the same tradition as the French bouillabaisse or the Eastern European brudet.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 large (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (or 4 tomatoes, chopped)
2 cups clam juice
1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, etc.)
50 live clams, washed
1 pound raw shrimp
1/2 pound Dungeness or king crab legs, cut at each joint
1 pound firm white fish (halibut, snapper, mahi mahi), cut into bite-sized chunks
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley, to garnish
How to Make It
Warm the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, thyme and bay leaves; sauté until the garlic is aromatic, about 1 minute.
Stir in the tomatoes and clam juice; bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
Add the clams and white wine. Bring to a simmer and cover, cooking until the clams have started to open, about 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and crab legs, then carefully add the fish pieces (don’t stir after adding the fish). Cover again and cook until the shrimp and fish are opaque and the clams are fully opened, another 3 to 4 minutes.
Taste for salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes makes for a mildly spicy stew; add or decrease in 1/4-teaspoon increments depending on preference. A splash of Tabasco or similar hot sauce at the end can spice it up.
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