From the SCCC Kitchen: Fish Stew is probably easier to make at home than find in restaurant

SCCC culinary professor Rocco Verrigni offers the third of three dishes with culinary roots in the
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“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers Daily Gazette readers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s nationally accredited American Culinary Federation culinary arts program. Recipes selected by SCCC instructors can be easily prepared in home kitchens. Today, professor Rocco Verrigni offers the third of three dishes with culinary roots in the Italian region of Tuscany: Cacciucco, also known as Fish Stew From Livorno.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. And plenty of fish in the bowl when people try Chef Rocco Verrigni’s Cacciucco.

Tuscany’s undisputed top seafood dish is full of calimari, shrimp, scallops, red snapper, monkfish and mussels.

“Not to be cliché-ish, but it tastes very, very much like the sea, as long as the fish is fresh,” Verrigi said. “It has hints of fennel and onion in the stock.”

Once the fish pieces are prepped, the dish comes together quickly. “It’s 30 minutes to cook the tomato base and about 10 minutes for the fish,” Verrigni said. “In less than an hour, you’ve got fish stew.”

The hearty fare is a perfect candidate to make at home because it can be hard to find at restaurants. “You’ll find it only where they specialize in Mediterranean seafood or [in] upscale restaurants,” Verrigni said.

The chef said Tuscan cooking is simple and seasonal. Tuscans use olive oil generously in their preparations, dressing salads, dipping bread and flavoring soups. Verrigni said if people shop for Cacciucco during the afternoon, they should be putting the entree together that evening — the fish must be fresh for best results.

“Buy it, and use it,” Verrigni said.

Cacciucco (Fish Stew From Livorno)

For tomato sauce:

1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1⁄2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1⁄2 cup dry red wine

5 cups canned plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cups fish stock or broth

1⁄4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Gently sauté the onion, garlic, fennel and carrot until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.

Add the red wine and mix well. Cook until the wine has burned off most of the alcohol, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and the fish stock. Add the parsley, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Cook uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have reduced and look like a thick sauce, like purée (about 30 to 40 minutes). Recipe makes about 4 cups of sauce, more than is needed for Cacciucco.

For Cacciucco:

1⁄2 cup of prepared tomato sauce

2 to 3 cups fish stock

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

1 1⁄2 pounds monkfish, cut into 3-ounce pieces

1 pound red snapper, cut into 2-ounce pieces

1 pound scallops, sliced

1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 1⁄2 pounds squid — clean, slice bodies, cut tentacles in half

8 slices country-style bread, 1-inch slices, lightly toasted

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1⁄4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced

In a sauce pan, bring 1⁄2 cup of the prepared tomato sauce and 2 cups of the fish stock to simmer over medium heat. Add the garlic.

Add the mussels and monkfish and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the red snapper and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the sliced scallops, shrimp and squid and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add more stock if stew is too dry. To serve, place the bread slice in the bottom of a large soup bowl.

Arrange the fish and shellfish on the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.

Categories: Life and Arts

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