Is it just me or is everyone else ready for fall? Lately, the weather hasn’t been able to get it right, which leaves me in a desperate search for sunshine, but also obsessively looking for a new couch and a few throws I can hibernate with already. So like the weather, I decided to be a little bit of this and a little bit of that, which brings me to this light, yet full of flavor seafood stew also known as cacciucco.
If you’re not familiar with cacciucco (pronounced cah-choo-co), don’t worry, you’re not alone. I stumbled across this dish and recipe while sitting around on an overcast day mindlessly swiping through recipes on my phone. This stew is like the intermission of seasons, the pre-game for the cold season. In this push and pull of changing seasons, I have the seafood that is reminiscent of this short summer and the steaming hot soup that is pulling me into the upcoming days of fall.
Anything with seafood is an instant winner in my book so I knew this was going to be something I had to make now. But what was it and how do I make something I’ve never tried or even heard of? It was time for some research.
As I’m typing away, Google predicted cacciucco vs. cioppino. Ahh, something I am familiar with! Cacciucco is very similar to cioppino; they are both made with seafood and have a tomato based soup. The only big difference I noticed in all my reading was that cioppino was said to be created in San Francisco while cacciucco is actually from Italy. In Saveur, they describe this dish as using “bottom of the boat” fish. In other words, this stew is made with leftover fish, usually bits and pieces that didn’t sell or weren’t as valuable for a fisherman.
Another exciting thing about this recipe for me is that I dished out an extra few bucks to buy Amore Double-Concentrated Tomato Paste in the tube instead of the usual canned tomato paste. It’s my first time using a double-concentrated tomato paste and it is so bold and flavorful that I may never go back to the canned variety. And it is much easier to measure out because it comes in a tube! It’s a game changer.Now, I understand that this stew is made with leftover fish and should essentially be very affordable, but anything with seafood always seems to break the bank! While it might cost you more than what you would typically spend for a homemade meal, this recipe will still save you more money than if you were to go to a restaurant, will probably taste 10 times better and is sure to impress!
Cacciucco (Tuscan Seafood Stew)
prep time: 30 minutes
cook time: 1 hour
serves: 4-5 people
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (plus more for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- ½ pound calamari (tubes and tentacles)
- 1 ½ tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 cup (and then some) of dry white wine
- 1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
- 1 cup fish stock
- ½ pound catfish (cut in chunks)
- ½ pound cod (cut in chunks)
- ½ pound shrimp
- ½ pound black mussels
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- ground black pepper
Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and add parsley, sage leaves, garlic and red chili flakes. Cook and stir frequently until fragrant being careful not to burn the garlic! Add the calamari tubes and tentacles and cook until opaque.
Stir in tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute. Add one cup of white wine (I use a pinot grigio), plus an extra little splash for good measure. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the smell of alcohol is no longer there.
Add diced tomatoes and juice to the pot and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add fish stock, salt and a few turns of black pepper and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste your stew at this point and make any adjustments now because after adding the fish, it won’t be easy to stir without breaking the fish into tiny pieces.
Add the cod and catfish pieces and cook covered for 5 minutes. Carefully add shrimp and black mussels and patiently wait for those mussels to open up, should be about 8 to 10 minutes before it’s ready to be devoured!
Recipe motivated from Saveur.