I created this dish for seafood stew lovers who hate the mess of cracking shells etc. (As for me, 'if I eat it, I wear it' so only a Hefty Bag will protect me from a true cioppino)
Aside from the easy-to-eat aspect, what makes my recipe different from most others is the added dimension of the red wine and the spiciness you get using chili paste, and the addition of both fennel seed and fennel bulb. It also has a good amount of the stew base which I enjoy as much as the seafood. You can use any combination of seafood that you like, but I am most fond of the combination of tuna,scallops,chopped clams , monkfish and swordfish. This freezes really well but make sure not to boil it when you reheat it or the seafood will toughen. —itsallaboutsharing
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1/3 inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup fennel bulb,chopped into 1/3 inch dice
3/4 cup green pepper chopped into 1/3 inch dice
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1-3 Tablespoons* Chinese chili paste or 1/2 Tablespoon plus of cayenne
2 teaspoons dried oregano, rubbed in your palms
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, """"
2 28 ounce cans of Pastene plum tomatoes, drained and chopped (juices reserved)
In a large non aluminum saucepan(6 quarts or more), heat oil til hot and sautee onion through fennel seed over medium high heat until cooked through and semi translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Do not brown. Add chili paste through basil and sautee a few minutes. Add tomatoes through black pepper.Add reserved tomato juices and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonong for a robust spicy flavor. Bring to boil and then simmer 20 minutes.
Cut fish into approximately 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes. Cut large scallops in half or quarters. If using shrimp , halve them lengthwise.
Add fish and scallops to the pot and simmer a few minutes til cooked through. Do not boil or fish will toughen. Add clams and/or shrimp last and simmer a few minutes til opaque. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve.
* don't use full amount at first. you can always add more heat but you can't take it away!
** an inexpensive wine like Gallo Hearty Mountain Burgundy is fine.