Growing up I didn’t have a traditional Christmas meal. Thanksgiving was a feast and my mom made Turkey religiously, but somehow Christmas fell off the radar in the extravagant holiday meal department. After morning church service and eating lunch there my parents were usually spent and rested for the remainder of the day.  I think we may have had Jewish Christmas dinner at Chinese buffets. I’m not completely sure, but I’d believe it if I was told that’s what we did. Anyway…

Being a seafood lover I was happy to learn that it was Dungeness Crab season in the bay area during the winter when we moved here from the east coast. So obviously, the Christmas meal decision in my house was done – Dungeness Crab. Unfortunately the season was cancelled this year due to some gnarly toxic bacteria that is infesting the crabs. So I turned to the great internet to search for answers to what to eat for Christmas!

I am not a fan of ham or goose … so I decided to stick to a seafood theme. Hence Cioppino, which apparently originated in San Francisco. (Pat on the back for keeping in local.)

I found a great recipe on epicurious.

As usual, I have trouble following recipes to a tee — using precisely every ingredient. This is a very forgiving stew, but important to keep in mind the relatively quick cooking time of seafood. Throw in the fresh seafood close to when you’re ready to serve.

Notes and substitutions:

  • Whole Foods ran out of clam juice! So I used lobster juice instead. I don’t think it made a huge difference, but likely added a subtle umami, briney flavor
  • Instead of clams I used mussels which turned out lovely
  • To keep costs down (without sacrificing taste, of course!) I used Cod instead of Halibut and used frozen shrimp and scallops
  • I definitely didn’t skip the king crab, but I served it separately and not in the stew which made it feel more extravagant

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