Reaching back to my San Francisco roots, inspired me to re-create an iconic dish from the City by the Bay known as Cioppino. Cioppino is believed to have been brought to San Francisco in the late 1800’s by Italian immigrants. Many of them from fishing villages like Genoa, settled in and around the SF Bay. It is also said that the term originated as Ciuppin, meant “chip in” to the pot, what ever the fisherman caught. It is literally a fish stew. Fish stews are common in coastal areas all over the world. Cioppino is comprised of aromatic vegetables, garlic, herbs, tomato, red wine, and fresh local caught fish & shellfish. The important thing is that the fish is very fresh. Typically, in San Francisco, it contains Dungeness Crab, shrimp, clams, squid and cod or halibut. Because I now reside in Charleston, I went to a local source and what was available was, Golden Tile Fish (white & flaky), shrimp, clams, mussels and squid. No crab was available so, it was just Cioppino, not Crab Cioppino. That’s ok! It is essential that it be served with a really good crusty sourdough bread for sopping up all of the remaining broth at the end! I like to enjoy with a cold, crisp and refreshing rose’ or, a light and bright slightly chilled red like Dolcetto d’ Alba or Barbera from the Langhe region of Italy or, a crisp chilled white from the Loire Valley in France.
RECIPE SERVES 2-4
1# White Fish Filet
2# Little Neck Clams
2# Fresh Peeled Shrimp (smaller preferred 16-20, or 21-25)
2 DUNGENESS CRABS (Seasonal, West Coast) you can substitute Blue Crab on the East Coast or Gulf, Jonah Crab in North East. Cracked and quartered. Top Shell removed and cleaned
1# Squid Tubes and Tentacles. Tubes cut into rings
1# Mediterranean or PEI Mussels
4 stalks celery, bias cut 1/4”thick
3 med. carrots, peeled, split lengthwise and bias cut 1/4”thick
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 lg. Yellow onion, julienned 1/4”thick
2 bulbs fennel, cored and julienned. If large, 1 should suffice.
2 28oz cans Italian Peeled tomatoes
1 qt. Of stock. I like to use a shrimp or fish stock, but you can use chicken or vegetable if that is what you have.
1/4 C tomato paste
2 C light bodied red wine like the you are drinking or the one leftover from last night!
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
3T Dried Italian Seasoning
3 sprigs fresh oregano, stem removed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed, chopped fine
1/8 C crushed red chilies, more if you like spicy!
1/2 C fresh Italian Parsley, rough chopped (For garnish)
Kosher Salt & fresh ground black pepper To Taste
- Select an 8qt stock or sauce pot, add olive oil and turn burner to medium heat.
- Add, celery, carrots, onion, fennel and begin to sweat for 2 minutes.
- Add, garlic and stir.
- Add, tomato paste and stir to coat vegetables. Stir frequently for about a minute.
- Add, red wine. It should be bubbling and simmering aggressively.
- Add, dried herbs, crushed chilies and stir.
- Add, cans of tomato and stock and fresh herbs except parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, continue to simmer for 2 hours.
- Add, salt & pepper stir and taste. Correct seasoning as needed.
You are now ready to add the seafood! I add crab, clams and the large pieces of fish at this stage, cover with lid and turn up the heat. After 5 minutes, open lid and check to see if clams have opened, they should be or starting to. Now add shrimp, mussels and squid stir to blend. Cover. After 3 minutes, open lid. Check to see that all of the clams and mussels have opened. If any remain closed, discard those. Check seasoning one more time and correct if needed. You are now ready to serve! Buon Appetito! 🍷🍷