It wasn’t jambalaya and it wasn’t cioppino.  A Jamppino?!?  A rose by any other name…

I had a boatload of ingredients but none of them were really authentic for either dish.  But I really wanted a spicy fish-type stew. So I decided to just go for it and create something using the things that I had.  It’s how I cook most of the time, anyway…

It’s actually been many years since I made a real cioppino.  The fisherman’s stew of olden days is now quite expensive to make.  Years (and years) ago when I worked at the Riviera Dinner House in San Francisco, one night a year we made Crab Cioppino – and that night it was the only thing on the menu.  Folks would line up for it.  I don’t recall what we charged for it, but I do know that in 1974 dollars, it was rather expensive.  It was really good stuff.  As with just about everything at the Riviera, there was no written recipe.  Actually, in all my youthful cooking, I don’t recall written recipes, anywhere.  Someone showed you how to make something and yelled at you if you didn’t make it right the next time.

Fear is a great motivator.

And that early training is probably why I have such a difficult time writing or explaining recipes, today.  My method of cooking is put it in the pot, taste, and adjust as necessary.

Funny how that doesn’t always translate.  Most people want just a little bit more direction than that.

Fish and Sausage Stew

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 smoked sausages, sliced (I used Hungarian)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3/4 lb cod chunks (I first wrote cod pieces but didn’t want to seem unseemly…)
  • 4 oz shrimp
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Guamanian boonie pepper (substitute cayenne or red pepper flakes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Saute onion and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil.  Add mushrooms and cook until lightly browned.  Add minced garlic and cook a minute or two longer.

Add sausages and cook until lightly browned.

Add red wine and cook until it’s reduced by about half.

Add broth and canned tomatoes with juice.  Add herbs and spices and simmer.

Add fish and shrimp and cook just until cooked through.

Serve in bowls over rice with crusty bread.

We’re heading home to San Francisco next month – and we’re staying at the wharf.  I have a feeling cioppino is in my very near future!