How to make Cacciucco

CacciuccoCacciuccoA modern version (with shellfish) (serves 6) Ingredients: 1.5kg fish  - whatever is in season. This doesn’t have to be expensive, and could be a mixture of any of the following, depending what is available: sole, mullet, scorpion fish, catfish, dogfish, eel,  hake, monkfish, John Dory.

If you are buying your fish locally, ask for a mixture of scorfani neri e rossi, gallinelle, caponi, palombo, murene, canocchie, triglie, ombrina, rana pescatrice, naselli, san pietro
500g octopus and squid or cuttlefish (polpo, totani, seppie)
500g mussels and clams (cozze e vongole)

1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
3 cloves garlic
parsley
800g peeled tomatoes (best if fresh) 
8 thick slices Italian bread
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bayleaf
Thyme
Sage
Chilli pepper
2 dessertspoons vinegar
1 glass dry red wine
Salt and pepper

  • Prepare all the fish, putting aside the heads of the larger ones to use for stock. Clean octopus and squid removing ink sack and eyes.
  • Wash shellfish carefully and place in a large pan to open them.  Conserve the liquid and the half shell with the mussel and clam attached
  • Cover fishheads in water in a pan and bring to the boil.
  • In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and lightly fry the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and parsley, all finely chopped. Add the chilli, thyme, sage and bayleaf and then the chopped octopus and squid or cuttlefish.
  • Cook for a few minutes, then add two dessert spoons of vinegar. When this has evaporated, add the red wine and cook til this has evaporated as well
  • Add the tomatoes, chopped, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • When the octopus and squid is tender, add the fish stock (strained), the remaining fish, and in the last few minutes the shellfish.
  • Toast the bread and rub with garlic. Place the slices in the bottom of a large tureen and pour the Cacciucco over the bread. Serve hot.  (there should be plenty of sauce, but the Cacciucco should not be too liquid).

Buying fish in Livorno: the best place to buy fresh fish is at Livorno's Central Market. If you want to buy frozen fish, one of the best known shops for this is Voliani.

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