My favorite seafood dish, by far, is Cioppino. I got turned on to it while working as a cook in Seattle in 2001, and now, anytime it’s on a menu, I order it. Sadly, it’s not on very many menus. I decided to make the dish last night. If you’ve never had or heard of Cioppino, it’s an old Italian/San Francisco Wharf seafood stew. They would take all the scraps from the days catch, throw it into a boil with tomatoes, etc, and eat it. It’s been refined, naturally, and is just wonderful! I make my Cioppino a bit spicy, and served with crusty bread and a mustard aoili. But, since it’s a bit spicy, needed a wine to stand up to it. Last time I made Cioppino, someone else chose the wine, a Dolcetto, which just got crushed by the meal. I grabbed a bottle that I knew could stand up to it: Gabriela: a 2007 blend from Purple Cow Vineyards in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Purple Cow is a small but growing Vineyard who grows Pinot Noit, Temprinillo, and Muscat grapes on the estate, and sources their others from the best regions of Oregon, Washington, and California.
This wine is a blend of 4 grapes: Malbec (61%), Mourvedre (30%), Tempranillo (5%) and Pinot Noir (4%). And only $24/bottle!
While the Malbec is prodiment on both the nose and the first taste, it is quickly overtaken by the Tannin and spice of the Mourvedre, which really give this wine a backbone. Big bold fruit jump out of the glass with perfect rich spice, and enough Tannin to battle the acidity of the tomato based Cioppino.
Now, if you are interested, my Cioppino with Mustard Aoili recipe (and yes, this is MY recipe)
Cioppino (serves 3-4)
Seafood: 1lb large shrimp; 1 lb white fish (Tilapia, cod), 1/2 lb bay Scallops (Optional. when available: Mussels, Crab Legs, Salmon, Calamari)
1 Large onion, diced
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
4 Large Tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
2 Cans stewed or diced tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups seafood stock (I used the broth from boiling the shrimp)
Optional, if desired: 1 Large Bell Pepper, diced
Seasoning: 2 bay leaves, Saffron, Red pepper flakes, Paprika, salt & pepper
Sautee onion & garlic in pan heavily coated in olive oil until opaque, add 1 cup white wine, reduce until 3/4 gone.
Add all tomatoes & bell pepper, stock, wine, bring to a boil.
While bringing to boil, add 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 pinches Saffron (this makes the dish in my opinion), 1/2 tsp Paprika, bay leaves, S&P
When boiling, add UNCOOKED seafood (I pre-cook the shrimp to have easy de-shelling, and to create broth). Simmer for 10-15 minutes until seafood is cooked. Reduce to lowest heat until ready to serve.
4 TBSP Dijon Mustard
2 TBSP Mayonnaise
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 egg yolk
pinch of saffron
salt & pepper
Combine all ingredients into bowl, whisk until blended. Drizzle over baked crisp french baugette slices
TO SERVE: Place 2-3 pieces of bread with aoili in bottom of serving bowl. Scoop Cioppino over bread. Garnish with 2-3 more bread pieces. Drink with rich, bold red wine. Enjoy!