I have a special treat straight from my childhood memories for you today. From ages 8 to 13, when asked what I would like to have for my birthday dinner I would answer, San Francisco Fish Stew. At the time we lived just outside San Francisco, leading to my assumption that our geographic location was the inspiration behind the name of this dish, however upon a quick google search, I discovered it is really a version of Cioppino (commonly called San Francisco Fish Stew). However, most Cioppino recipes are very spicy and include a variety of seafood and extra flavorings like clam juice. However, I prefer my mother’s version as it is still accessible even for those of us who are a bit further inland, and it is easy enough to be a regular weeknight crowd-pleaser. Even my hubby, who is categorically skeptical of all things from the sea, was a convert with this stew.
I did make some adjustments to my mom’s tried and true version, largely to amplify flavors I love (garlic!) and downplay those I don’t (bell peppers)… But the biggest change I made was to use crushed tomatoes instead of a chunkier version, which gave the whole dish a soup-ier feel, which I really enjoyed when served over a bed of Jasmine rice. I also used flounder for my stew, as it was the best available to me at the time, but feel free to use whatever white fish you prefer! Also, a great adaptation of this recipe for people how like a little kick would be to add a teaspoon (or more!) of red pepper flakes and/or hot sauce into the sauce to lend a little pep.
Now that I have finally claimed this stew from the recesses of my memory and added my particular stamp on it, I have to say it is a great standby for feeding (and wowing!) a crowd, no wonder my mom made it a standby when I was young!