a rich, spicy tomato-based broth full of shrimp, halibut, mussels, and clams + served with crusty, charred bread
1 onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 shallot, minced
2 red fresno chili peppers, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 ½ qts fish (or vegetable) stock
1 lb manila clams, scrubbed
1 lb mussels, debearded and scrubbed
1 lb halibut, cut into 2” chunks
1 ½ lbs raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 loaf crusty bread, sliced ½” thick
fennel fronds & lemon juice, to garnish
Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, fennel, shallot, and chili peppers. Sauté until tender and slightly caramelized, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and fennel seeds. Cook for another minute or two. Season everything with a generous pinch of salt.
Add a splash more olive oil and stir in the tomato paste until incorporated. Deglaze the pot with the white wine, scrapping all the bits off the bottom. Let the liquid come to a bubble and simmer for a minute or two.
Add the fish stock. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often.
Add in the clams and mussels. Cover the pot and simmer just until the shells begin to open, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and halibut. Continue to simmer until the shrimp is pink and the fish is cooked through. Discard any clams or mussels that have not opened at this point.
Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is smoking hot, work in batches to char the bread quickly on both sides, adding a little bit of olive oil for each slice. Transfer each slice of bread to a plate once charred and immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Serve the cioppino with a squeeze of lemon juice, a few fennel fronds on top, and the charred bread on the side.