Attention seafood lovers! If you have a passion for seafood, Cioppino is the recipe for you. Cioppino is a fish stew chock full of your favorite seafood - a true banquet of fish all in one dish.
Cioppino is considered an American-Italian dish, created in the 1800s by Italian fishermen who prepared the recipe on their boats while at sea. They “chipped” the various parts of their catch and threw the morsels into a pot to make stew. The recipe was brought back to the area of San Francisco and quickly became a favorite menu item in many Italian homes and restaurants.
This recipe is simple yet elegant enough to impress your guests at a dinner party. It is also extremely versatile. Use your favorite seafood. Buy fresh when possible, but since my freezer is usually stocked with frozen shrimp, sea scallops and assorted frozen fish, these are often the base for my stew. Cioppino may be lean or rich; I prefer a richer stew, so I add a half can of canned whole baby clams (Chicken of the Sea) and a half can of lump crab meat. The crab is much easier to handle without the shell! Mussels are often added to a Cioppino, so throw some in if you wish. Whatever seafood you decide to use for this dish, it all melds together into a delectable seafood sensation.
Serve with some crusty sourdough or french bread to soak up the sauce. If you like some extra spice, add a few red pepper flakes on the side.
Cioppino, A Hearty Seafood Stew
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup shallots, chopped, approximately 3 shallots
- 1/4 cup fennel, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons garlic, minced, approximately 4 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 bottles clam juice
- 28 ounce can pureed plum tomatoes
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, or to taste
- Splash of red wine
- 1 pound king crab legs, thawed and cut into pieces, shell intact
- 1 pound littleneck clams, well scrubbed
- 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, 21-25 per pound, cleaned and deveined, tail segment intact
- 3/4 - 1 pound sea scallops
- 1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish such as halibut, cod, red snapper, or salmon, cut in 2-inch pieces
- chopped parsley or basil, if desired for garnishing
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook shallots and fennel in oil over moderate heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Add the bay leaf, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, tomato paste, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Add all remaining ingredients, except for the seafood and garnish, and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook on medium-low for 30 minutes.
- Season shrimp, scallops and fish pieces lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Once the sauce is done cooking, add crab pieces and clams to the pot and simmer, covered until clams have opened, about 5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams to a bowl and set aside.
- Add shrimp, scallops and fish to the pot and simmer, covered until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Return clams to pot and heat through.
- Ladle the Cioppino into large soup bowls and garnish with chopped parsley or basil.
- Serve with country style bread.
- For a richer Cioppino consider adding some canned whole baby clams and canned lump crab meat. I like to use Chicken of the Sea.
- Mussels are also a great addition to the stew.
- To save time and for better flavor, make the stew, without the seafood, one day ahead. Cool, cover, then refrigerate until ready to use. Bring the stew to a simmer before adding the seafood.