by: Stacia

Cacciucco is a fish stew made in the Tuscan port of Livorno, from whatever the fishmonger has that's fresh and inexpensive. It should have a healthy jolt of red pepper, and will sell you on fish if you don't like fish already.


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serves: 8-10

1 loaf of ciabatta bread

2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil

5 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)

1 lb (450 g) uncleaned medium-sized squid

1 (2-lb/900-g) john dory (filleted)

1 (3-lb/1.5-kg) gurnard or (sea robin, filleted)

1 (2-lb/900-g) thick, unskinned cod fillet

1 (1-lb/450-g) cooked lobster

1 large onion (chopped)

1 large carrot (finely diced)

2 stalks celery (finely diced)

1 1/4 cups (300 ml) red wine

1 can (14-oz/400-g) diced tomatoes

2 leaves bay

2-3 medium-hot red chile peppers, slit open lengthwise

10 cups (2.4 liters) water

6 leaves sage

2 lb (900 g) mussels (cleaned)

1/4 cup dry white wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe: 8

Amount per Serving

Calories: 604

  • Total Fat: 24.6 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 3.9 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 204.6 mg
  • Sodium: 1677.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 50.9 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 7.6 g
  •     Sugars: 20.6 g
  • Protein: 41 g

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1.  Make a cut around the back of the head and under the sharp, bony gill flaps using a sharp, thin-bladed, flexible knife.

2.  Snip off all the spiny fins with strong scissors.

3.  Lay the fish on a chopping board and run the tip of the knife vertically all around the outside edge of the fish, close to the raised ridge of sharp little spines.

4.  Flatten the blade of the knife slightly and start to cut the fillet away from the underlying bones, keeping the blade of the knife as close to them as you can. The fillet from this side of the fish will come away in one piece. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side.

5.  Put the lobster belly-side down on a board and make sure none of the legs is tucked underneath. Cut it in half, first cutting through the middle of the head between the eyes. Then turn either the knife or the lobster around and finish cutting it in half through the tail.

6.  Open it up and Iift out the tail meat from each half.

7.  Remove the intestinal vein from the tail meat.

8.  Break off the claws, then break them into pieces at the joints. Crack the shells with a knife. Break off and discard the legs.

9.  Remove the meat from each of the claw sections in pieces as large as possible.

10.  Remove the soft, greenish tomalley (liver) and any red roe from the head section of the shell using a teaspoon. Save the tomalley. Poll out the stomach sac and discard. Reserve the shell.

11.  Hold the squid's body in one hand and the head with the other, and gently pull the head away from the body, taking the milky white intestines with it.

12.  Remove the tentacles from the head by cutting them off just in front of the eyes. Discard the head and separate the tentacles if they are large.

13.  Squeeze out the beak-like mouth from the center of the tentacles and discard it.

14.  To retain the ink sac, look among the intestines for a very small, pearly white pouch with a slight blue tinge and carefully cut it away.

15.  Reach into the body and pull out the clear, plastic-like quill.

16.  Pull off the two fins from either side of the body pouch. Then pull away the brown, semi-transparent skin from both the body and the fins. Wash out the body pouch with water.

17.  Insert the blade of a sharp, thin-bladed, flexible knife into the opening of the body pouch and slit it open along one side. Open it out flat and pull away any remaining intestines and membrane.

18.  Score what was the inner side in a diamond pattern using the tip of a small, sharp knife, taking care not to cut too deeply. Then cut the squid into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces.

19.  Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Cut the ciabatta into slices 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Spread out on a baking sheet and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove and rub both sides of each piece with one of the peeled cloves of garlic. Set aside.

20.  Cut the fish fillets into slices 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) thick.

21.  Heat half of the remaining olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and fry for about 8 minutes until just beginning to brown. Add the red wine, the lobster shell, tomatoes, bay leaves, red chiles, and water. Mash the reserved ink sac with a little water and add to the pan. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 45 minutes.

22.  Strain the stock through a sieve into another large pan, pressing the debris against the sides of the sieve with a ladle to extract as much flavor and liquid as possible. You want to have about 5 cups (1.2 liters) of vvell-flavored stock. lf there is more than this, bring it to a boil and boil rapidly for a few minutes until reduced to the required amount and well concentrated in flavor. Season to taste.

23.  Put the remaining olive oil and garlic and the sage leaves in a large, clean pan. Heat gently until beginning to sizzle. Add the squid and fry for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the squid and keep warm.

24.  Put the mussels into a large saucepan with the white wine, cover, and cook over a high heat for about 3 minutes until the shells have opened. Tip into a colander set in a bowl, reserve the cooking liquid.

25.  Add the prepared stock and pieces of fish to the pan in which you fried the squid. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the lobster meat, squid, mussels, and all but the last 2 tablespoons of the mussel cooking liquid, and simmer for 1 minute. Take the pan of Cacciucco to the table with the crisp olive-oil ciabatta slices and serve.

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