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How 2.0: Making Cioppino at Home

Remember your last trip to San Francisco? What did you see? Ah yes, the trolley cars and the Golden Gate. Let’s be honest, though: What you saw isn’t isn’t that interesting. We’ve all seen pictures.

A trip to San Francisco begs a much more important question: “What did you eat?” Hopefully your answer includes Cioppino.

While it seems like it’s always 60 degrees out there on the Bay, 100 degree weather is finally in our rear view here in Texas. So thoughts turn to warm bellies on crisp fall days.

Cioppino is a celebration of simple, fresh ingredients. Crab, shrimp, scallops, mussels and white fish all simply prepared sitting in an herby tomato and wine broth.  Sourdough baguette to sop it all up.  Think of it as almost an Italian bouillabaiesse.

Unlike many “American” dishes which are actually borrowed/stolen from Old World recipes, Cioppino was actually invented in San Fran by Italian fishermen in the North Beach.  And like most stews, it started as a way to use leftovers.

You don’t have to fly out to San Fran and eat at the Tadich, Sotto Mare or Scoma’s for real Cioppino. Its actually a very simple dish to prepare at home.  Your fishmonger should prep the raw seafood for you free of charge.  See the recipe below.

Leave your heart in San Francisco, but be sure to bring back with you an appreciation for one of the best fish stews you’ll ever taste.

Traditional Seafood Cioppino Stew

¾ cup butter                                                     2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced                                      1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 cans stewed tomatoes                                    2 pints of Fish or Shrimp Stock
2 bay leaves                                                     1 tablespoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme                                    ½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup water                                                       1 ½ cups white wine
1 ½ lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined                    1 ½ lbs sea scallops
18 littleneck clams                                             18 mussels
1 ½ cups lump crabmeat                                   1 ½ lbs white fish, cubed

Over medium-low heat, melt butter in a large stockpot. Add onions, garlic and parsley. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until onions are soft. Chunk tomatoes and add. Add stock, bay leaves, basil, thyme, oregano, water and wine. Mix well. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Stir in shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and crabmeat. Stir in fish. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 5 to 7 min until clams and mussels open. Ladle Cioppino into bowls and serve with sourdough baguettes. Serves 6-8.

Change your life: eat more fish!

Jon Alexis is the co-owner of TJ’s Fresh Seafood Market & Catering, 11661 Preston Road, Dallas.

Ed Note: Want even easier? TJ’s makes a bottled San Francisco Style Cioppino Sauce…all you do is simmer and add the seafood.


1 Comment

  1. MattyB    9/27/2010

    Cooler weather….cioppino….yum!

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