Thursday, June 4, 2015


This scrumptious seafood stew, originally created by Italian American fishermen in San Francisco in the 19th century utilizing the fresh catch of the day (e.g., crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, fish, squid, scallops), is cooked in a delicious broth of olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes and wine. I perused a bunch of recipes before coming up with this version, which I've tried to keep as simple and basic as possible. Regardless of which Cioppino recipe you make, the key is to use the absolutest most freshest seafood you can get your crabby claws on. Don't even bother using anything frozen or a day or two before the suggested sale/expiration date, cuz the end result will, how shall I delicately put it...suck!

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. salt
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (or 3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups bottled clam juice and/or 3 cups clam juice and 2 cups fish stock
2 bay leaves
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Pinch saffron

2 lbs. large shrimp, shelled and deveined, with tails left on*
1 lb. sea scallops
1 1/2 lbs. firm white fish (e.g., monkfish, halibut), cut into 2" pieces
1 lbs. clams (Manilas or Littlenecks)
Cooked crab claws/legs
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp. fresh chopped basil

Crusty bread sliced, fresh or toasted with basil olive oil and garlic

*Feel free to use whatever combination of  fish or shellfish you like for this recipe, so long as they are fresh

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, and 2 tsp. salt. Cook about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeños. Cook 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the canned diced tomatoes and their juices, white wine, clam juice and/or fish stock, bay leaves, thyme, black pepper, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of saffron. Bring to a simmer and cover. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. 

3. Turn up heat, add the clams, cover, and cook until they start to open, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in the remaining seafood and cook 5 minutes until they are just cooked through. Stir in the fresh parsley and basil. Taste the broth and re-season with additional salt, pepper, red pepper flakes as needed. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with crusty bread on the side. 


Thinly slice the fennel bulb.

Chopped jalapeños, garlic, thyme sprigs, chopped onion, sliced fennel, chopped basil, cilantro and bay leaves. 

Sugar, diced tomatoes, "Better than Bouillon" fish stock base, saffron, clam juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, 2 cups of fish stock (made from the fish base). You can use all clam juice for this recipe or a mix of clam juice and fish stock (I used 3 cups of clam juice and 2 cups fish stock for this preparation).

Saute the fennel, onions and salt until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook 2 minutes. 

Add the tomato paste. 

Add the diced tomatoes, clam juice and/or fish stock and wine. 

Add the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, pinch of saffron, pepper and sugar. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook 30 minutes. 

Turn up the heat and add the clams. Cover and cook until the clams open. 

Add the remaining seafood and cook about 5 minutes until they are just done. 

Stir in the fresh parsley and basil and adjust seasonings as needed. 

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