My mother learned this recipe from my Sicilian grandmother or aunts. The recipe has always been a bit vague as is common with family recipes. It is done with a base set of knowledge from making it 50 times before and tweaked to taste as it is make. Sometimes the garlic is weaker or stronger. The parsley is sweeter or more bitter. Tomatoes can be more acidic or sweeter. Sometimes we use fresh Roma from the garden and sometimes it is all canned sauce. I recommend a mix of fresh Roma and canned sauce.
The Recipe. I have added some comments in parenthesis based on my preference.
Fish (squid / calamari) Cioppino
2T Olive Oil (mild)
1 Large Onion (yellow or white but usually yellow. Sliced 1/4" thin or less)
Bunch of Garlic (10 -15 cloves maybe a whole bulb all depends on your taste. Smash, remove skin and thinly slice)
Bunch Of Parsley (1/2 – 1 cup fresh from the garden is the nicest. Smash, chop coarse.)
3 cans Tomato Sauce (16oz or so cans. Potatoes will thicken the sauce)
A few Potatoes (2 or 3 or 4 or... cubed. Peeled. cut into about 8 chunks)
Some Fish, any fish – But Squid is pretty good ( Mom used 10 to 15 squid I think. Maybe more. Cleaned, cut into 3/4" rings. Pop the beak and toss the tentacles (heads) in. I always cleaned the squid and remember everything in 5lb lots)
In a medium pot on medium high heat, add 1T olive oil and brown Garlic until dark brown.
Add onion and parsley brown until onions are soft but nor caramelized.
Reduce heat add Tomato Sauce then add potatoes and fish on top of potatoes.
Cook on medium to medium low until done (Potatoes, that is). Should be simmering bubble and not large popping bubbles.
When done, add a few drops of vinegar (red wine vinegar. This step can be skipped but that is what Mom did. We alwasy have garlic red wine vinegar in the house) and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Makes 1 pot. Serves 5.
Serve with green garden salad (dressed with oil and garlic red wine vinegar of course. Our Sicilian salads always had Iceberg lettuce, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, carrots and green onion).
Always serve with warm, soft french bread. No sour dough!