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Weekend Recipe: Cioppino

Photo courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

This fisherman's meal is one of those iconic Italian American dishes that we crave when there's fresh seafood abound. Even Lidia Bastianich paid her respects to San Francisco's Italian immigrants who popularized this classic seafood stew. America's Test Kitchen keeps it simple -- just as it's meant to be.

Serves 4 to 6

Any firm-fleshed, 3/4- to 1-inch-thick whitefish (such as cod or sea bass) can be substituted for halibut. Discard clams or mussels with unpleasant odors, cracked shells, or shells that won't close. If little necks are not available, substitute Manila or mahogany clams, or use 2 pounds of mussels. If using only mussels, skip step 3 and cook them all at once with the butter and wine for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with sourdough or rustic bread.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup water
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, chopped coarse
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
1 (1 1/2-pound) skinless halibut fillet, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, cut into 6 pieces
1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil

Heat vegetable oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Add water and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and reserved juice and clam juice and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Submerge halibut in broth, cover, and gently simmer until fish is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and, using slotted spoon, transfer halibut to plate, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside.

Bring clams, wine, and butter to boil in covered 12-inch skillet over high heat. Steam until clams just open, 5 to 8 minutes, transferring them to pot with tomato broth as they open.

Once all clams have been transferred to pot, add mussels to skillet, cover, and cook over high heat until mussels have opened, 2 to 4 minutes, transferring them to pot with tomato broth as they open. Pour cooking liquid from skillet into pot, being careful not to pour any grit from skillet into pot. Return broth to simmer.

Stir parsley into broth and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide halibut among serving bowls. Ladle broth over halibut, making sure each portion contains both clams and mussels. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.