Books, Cooking, Food

Eat This While you Read That: Larry Correia

fennel and shallots
Yukon Gold potatoes, shallots, and fennel. I’m happy about this recipe already.

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.

Fennel has a tough ‘core’ you will want to remove. I saved the delicate fronds to use as garnish.

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…

dicing fish made easy
Tip for reducing fish to nice even chunks: cut it while still partly frozen. A heavy, sharp kitchen knife will handle this easily.

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.

onions garlic fennel
Sauteing the vegetables to get their flavor going before adding liquids.

Cioppino: Seafood Stew


  • 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


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, reduce the wine by about two-thirds.
  • In a large, heavy saucepan or skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil. Sauté the shallots, garlic, and then the fennel until it is slightly softened.
  • Add the cumin and oregano, stir, and allow to stay on heat for a moment.
  • Put the reduced wine in with the vegetables, then the diced tomatoes and stock. Add the frozen cuttlefish (if you are using fresh octopus or squid, sauté them for a few minutes with the vegetables before adding the liquids).
  • Bring up to a boil and add the potatoes, then reduce heat to allow a simmer. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Add the fish and clams or mussels and cook, covering the pot, for ten to fifteen minutes until the shellfish have all opened and the fish is opaque. Taste, season, and serve with fresh crusty bread.
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    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!

    The completed Cioppino, a full-flavored stew in a relatively short cooking time. The mussels could be added without shells, of course, but I like the way it looks.

    You can find the index page of ETWYRT recipes here.

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