I’d first asked Larry Correia if he’d be willing to take part in this series of foodie book blogs when I saw him at LTUE this spring, and his eyes lit up. “I love food!” he told me, and then he had to hurry off to another panel. I was busy too – that is a fantastic symposium, BTW, I highly recommend it to writers – and I had enough on the list at the time not to hunt him down and corner him. I hate to bother a busy man, so I left it a while before reaching out. He came back to me and suggested that I talk to his wife, because while he loves food, he’s not a cook. Since I have a deep admiration for his wife, and enjoy the lovely photos of food she shares (like me, she not only cooks, but shoots food) I was delighted when she sent me photos and the names of one of Larry’s favorite meals.
The wonderful thing about this series has been getting to cook from author’s cultural backgrounds. A surprising amount of the good authors I know are not from standard, stereotypical upbringings, and it’s been a diverse set of recipes and dishes to cook. Larry Correia, like Sarah Hoyt, is of Portuguese lineage, and that is where this recipe stems from. Cioppino is a classic seafood stew, with a little bit of everything in it, I’m given to understand. Whatever came in from the ocean that day…
While you’re contemplating all the bounty of the sea, I suggest you take a look at the rather impressive library of work Correia has written. Given the salty, savory nature of this stew, either Hard Magic or Monster Hunter International would be very appropriate. I will warn you that if you enjoy hard-driving action, intriguing characters, and fast-moving plots, you’ll need to set a timer so you don’t burn anything! For something a bit different, you might try listening to a story, instead, with this audio-only short set in the Grimnoir world: Murder on the Orient Elite.
Now that you have gathered the denizens of the deep you plan to incorporate into the stew, and have your reading material on hand for the waiting periods, let’s get started. I’m in Ohio, a landlocked state far from the eldritch shrieks of seagulls, so I settled for frozen rather than fresh: whole cuttlefish, mussels, and tilapia fillets. You could use any firm-fleshed whitefish in this recipe, and clams, squid, octopus, shrimp… you name it, they probably threw it in the pot. When I was a girl with my grandmother teaching me how to beachcomb and find wild edibles, we would have added gooseneck barnacles or whelk to it.
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- olive oil
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced, reserve fronds and discard 'core'
- 3-4 shallots, roughly chopped
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- handful of fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 lb cuttlefish, cleaned (or octopus, or squid...)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 c fish or vegetable stock
- 3 tender potatoes, diced
- 2 whitefish fillets (about a pound)
- 1 lb clams or mussels
- salt and pepper to taste
This recipe yielded a large pot of lovely, savory, salty stew. It was delicious. The fennel, if you aren’t familiar with it, has an anisey, liquoricey scent but that disappears on cooking in this, leaving a nice sweetness that plays well against the reduced wine acidity. I’m told it’s even better on the second day, so I am looking forward to leftovers!
You can find the index page of ETWYRT recipes here.