Sunday, November 23, 2014

The San Francisco Treat

No, I'm not talking about Rice A Roni.  I'm talking about Cioppino.  Cioppino comes from an Italian word for "chopped."  It was made by fisherman who used the catch of the day.  They made it on their boats and used the freshest fish and seafood.  

I had heard about Cioppino before, but I had never made it. My husband saw a man making it on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and he just had to have it.  Since he's such a great man, he gets what he wants.  

So we headed to the "fancy" grocery store in town and went to the seafood counter.  The stew is typically made with shrimp, crab, clams, mussels, scallops, and a hearty white fish.  The shellfish is usually left in the shell, but it is a little messy.  I peeled the shrimp so I could use the shells in the stock. We left the crab claw meat in the shell for presentation, but we took the leg and knuckle meat out of the shell.  Clams and mussels obviously need to be in the shell. My husband wanted to use halibut for the white fish.  He developed a love for halibut when he was stationed in New York while in the Army.  I had never had it before, but I'm usually pretty game to try most things.  

Now, this hearty stew takes some time to develop the flavors, so it's not a whip it up kind of meal.  But, if you're a seafood fan, you will be glad you took the time to coax the flavors out of this.  Enjoy!

Shrimp shells (*see below)
1 onion, rough chopped
1 stalk celery, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 jalapeno, rough chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seed
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons oregano
Salt, to taste
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
One 8-ounce jar clam juice
10 C water

12 ounces shrimp, peeled (*use the peel for the stock above)
2 lbs crab legs, shelled or not shelled
1/2 lb mussels
1/2 lb clams
1 lb halibut, cut into bite sized pieces (or your favorite white fish)
Olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 serrano chile, stem removed and chopped
1/2 C red wine
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste

For the stock, put all of the stock ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a rapid boil.  Reduce the heat just slightly, but make sure it's still boiling.  Continue to cook for about an hour. Strain the liquid and reserve 8 C of the liquid.  Discard the strained remnants.  NOTE:  I left the lid mostly on so as not to lose too much liquid in evaporation and I had more than 8 C stock.  If you don't end up with 8 C stock, just add enough water to it to make 8 C.

For the stew, you will need to soak the clams and mussels in cold water in the sink.  Tap them gently to make sure they close.  If any of them don't close, discard them.  Some of them will close slowly, so wait a few minutes before discarding to see if they do eventually close.  Soak them for about 30 minutes.  This makes the clams and mussels filter out any sand they may have in them.  

In a dutch oven or large pot, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil in the bottom.  Cook the carrots, celery, onion, bell pepper, and serrano until tender, about 5-8 minutes.  Add in the red wine and deglaze the pan.  Add in the reserved stock, the can of tomatoes and the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring this to a boil.  Reduce the heat slightly and continue cooking about 30-45 minutes or until the liquid has cooked down and gotten thick.  

Add in the halibut (or other white fish), clams and mussels and crab (if leaving the crab in the shell) and cook until the clams and mussels are opened.  If any of the clams or mussels do not open, discard them.  Add in the shrimp (and crab if you took it out of the shell) and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the shrimp is done.  Serve with hot sauce, if desired, and a hunk of warm french bread.


  1. try adding a half of a bottle of Pinot Grigio to the stock...YUM

    1. That sounds wonderful, Josie! I will definitely try that.