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Cioppino - Fish Stew

Cioppino is a fish stew , which means "little soup" in the Genoese dialect, originating in San Francisco. It was developed in the late 1800s by Portuguese and Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Despite being considered an Italian dish (it is unknown in Italy) made famous in the 1850s by Genoese immigrant Giuseppe Bazzuro at his eponymous restaurant. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day. The dish was originally a purée of cooked vegetables and leftover fish scraps. Over the years, Bay area chefs transformed it into a luxurious stew using local delicacies such as dungeness crab, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels etc. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either sourdough or baguette. Cioppino is comparable to cacciucco and brodetto from Italy, as well as other European fish dishes, such as bouillabaisse and bourride of the French Provence, suquet de peix from Catalan speaking regions of coastal Spain.

Cioppino - Fish Stew

Serves 8

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, trimmed, cleaned, and chopped
  • 1⁄2 small fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 28-oz. cans crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 pinches cayenne
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. halibut filet, cut into large pieces
  • 16 sea scallops
  • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1⁄2 lb. raw bay shrimp, if available, or smallest shrimp, peeled
  • 1–2 cups flour
  • 12 oz. crabmeat, preferably dungeness, picked over
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 16 manila clams, scrubbed
  • 1⁄2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • Heat 1/2 cup of the oil and 8 tbsp. of the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, peppers, leeks, and fennel and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 4 cups water, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, and cayenne and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
  • Heat remaining 1/2 cup oil, 8 tbsp. butter, and garlic in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Working in 2 batches, dredge halibut, scallops, and large and bay shrimp in flour, shaking off excess, and fry, turning seafood frequently, until golden, 1–2 minutes. Transfer seafood with a slotted spoon to pot with sauce, and add crabmeat, cover, and simmer for 10–15 minutes.
  • Add wine to same skillet over high heat, scraping browned bits stuck to bottom of skillet. Add clams, cover, and cook until shells open, about 5 minutes. (Discard any clams that don't open.) Add clams and broth to pot; adjust seasonings. Ladle soup into large bowls, garnish with parsley, and serve with toasted sourdough bread or baguette.

An absolutely delicious soup. You can use a variety of seafood and fish, whatever is fresh and reasonably priced.

Adapted from «Tadich Grill» restaurant