Spicy seafood stew steams with San Francisco flavor


May 18, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

San Franciscans have long had a love affair with a spicy seafood stew that is not unlike the famed bouillabaisse of France. Shellfish and whitefish swimming in a garlicky tomato and white wine base make up the standard ingredients. Fennel bulb adds a delicate sweetness and works so well with fish. This entree is deceptively simple and very low in fat.

Serve the soupy dish over al dente linguine or spaghetti, or, if you prefer a crunchy contrast, just pair it with a crusty country-style bread. If pasta is the choice, make sure to put a large pot of water on to boil first.

A simple salad of mixed greens with a low-fat Caesar (or Italian style) salad dressing adds nice flavor and color contrast.

To end this full-bodied extravaganza, serve a refreshing, low-fat frozen yogurt of choice.

Items you should have as staples are: olive oil, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, canned tomato paste, dry white wine, red pepper flakes, thyme, salad greens, low-fat Caesar dressing.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list: vegetable or clam stock, 1 bunch fresh basil, littleneck clams, fish fillet, sea scallops, medium shrimp and low-fat frozen yogurt.

Quick cioppino

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped fennel bulb

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 16-ounce can tomatoes with juice, broken into pieces

1 small can tomato paste

3/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth

3/4 cup vegetable or clam stock

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon thyme

8 littleneck clams

8 ounces white fish fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes

8 ounces sea scallops

8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled

In a large nonstick Dutch oven or soup pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium high until the oil is hot.

Add the fennel, onion and the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, stock, red pepper flakes, thyme and basil.

Keep the heat on medium high and cook for 5 minutes. Add the clams, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Add the fish cubes, scallops and shrimp and cook 5 to 7 minutes more. The clams should be open and the fish firm but not rubbery. Serve in large, shallow soup bowls or over pasta or rice.

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