Chef Gordon Mackie features this version of the classic Italian cioppino at Toronto's Far Niente restaurant.
2 lb. mussels
1 lb. sea bass (or halibut or red snapper)
3 oz. olive oil
2 medium-sized onions
1 small carrot
1 garlic clove
4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves, broken
3 oz. dry vermouth
1 tsp salt
5 sprigs of basil
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 or 2 whole red chilies
1 lb. fresh shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 lb. scallops
1 tbsp butter (optional)
Step 1: Soak and scrub mussels, then let soak in water until ready to use.
Step 2: Slice sea bass into four pieces, each approximately the size of a playing card. Set aside.
Step 3: Heat olive oil in a large (6-qt.) pot. Mince onions, carrot and garlic, and brown slowly in oil, stirring often (about 20 minutes). Add tomatoes to mixture and cook 20 minutes more; add stock and bay leaves. Keep heat high enough so mixture continuously bubbles, and stir.
Step 4: In a hot nonstick pan, sauté fish skin-side-down with a bit of olive oil. Set aside when cooked — about 6-8 minutes.
Step 5: Add mussels and vermouth to large pot; cook 5 minutes. Add salt, all remaining spices, shrimp and scallops. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Step 6: When mussels begin to open, add butter, top with cooked fish pieces, and serve in four large soup bowls.