Cioppino, a seafood lover’s delight that captures the essence of the ocean in every spoonful is widely-known as the signature dish of San Francisco. This Seafood Stew is a combination of fresh fish and seafood poached in a tasty tomato broth and served up with tons of crusty bread for dipping. Amazingly, this Classic Homemade Cioppino is easy-to-make, and incredibly versatile. Easily adjust the type of fish and seafood, according to your preferences. The aroma in your kitchen as the seafood broth is simmering, will blow you away!
In addition, Cioppino is great dish for entertaining and to serve for your holiday gatherings. Definitely, add this seafood recipe to your Feast of the Seven Fishes celebration on Christmas Eve.
WHAT IS CIOPPINO?
Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco in the late 1800s. This fisherman’s stew was traditionally made from the catch of the day. The combination would typically include, crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish; all of which were sourced directly from the Pacific Ocean.
The fresh fish and seafood is simmered in a flavorful broth made with tomatoes, wine, garlic, and aromatic herbs.
WHAT KIND OF FISH AND SEAFOOD
Given that most of us will not have the “catch of the day” readily available when preparing this fabulous seafood stew, any firm white fish will work. Here’s a list of fresh fish to use in any Classic Homemade Cioppino recipe:
- red snapper
- sea bass
- hogfish (very expensive, but worth every dollar)
- littleneck or middleneck clams
- Dungeness crab or snow crab legs
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE CIOPPINO
- Butter and Olive Oil: Use salted butter and a quality olive oil.
- Vegetables: Sautéed onions, fennel and garlic infuse the broth with rich aromatics.
- Fresh Herbs: Opt for fresh herbs; parsley, basil and thyme, if possible.
- Wine: Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work well in this cioppino recipe. Easily replace the wine with additional clam or seafood stock.
- Tomatoes: Canned, crushed tomatoes are great for convenience. However, for added freshness, blanch, peel and crush fresh tomatoes. Believe me, it’s worth the extra effort.
- Clam Juice: Easily substitute with seafood stock, or chicken stock.
- Fish and Seafood: Use my combination, or choose your favorite fish and seafood.
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC HOMEMADE CIOPPINO
Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to create your very own Seafood Feast:
- Prepare the Broth:
- Heat olive oil and melt butter in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
- Add minced onions and fennel. Sauté for about 8 minutes until softened, without browning.
- Stir in minced garlic, fresh thyme, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in white wine, crushed tomatoes, clam juice, fresh basil, bay leaves, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to just under a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
- Prepare the Seafood:
- While the broth simmers, prepare the seafood.
- Soak clams in water for at least 10 minutes to remove debris. Rinse and reserve in the fridge.
- Scrub mussels and debeard, if necessary. Rinse and reserve in the fridge.
- Cut fish into chunks, scallops into quarters, and peel and devein the shrimp.
- If using crab legs, partially crack the shells.
- Cook the Cioppino:
- After simmering the broth, remove bay leaves. Increase the heat.
- Add clams. Cover. Allow the clams to steam open for 5-8 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
- As the clams open, remove and reserve in a bowl .
- Add mussels to the pot and steam open for 1-2 minutes. Remove opened mussels and place with clams.
- Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Add fish chunks and scallops. Simmer for a few minutes.
- Add shrimp and crab legs. Simmer until shrimp turns pink and opaque.
- Return clams and mussels to the pot. Toss in fresh basil and parsley.
- Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste.
- Ladle the Cioppino into large bowls.
- Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of fresh basil and parsley.
- Serve hot with lemon wedges and crusty sourdough bread, or a baguette.
TIPS ON MAKING THE BEST CIOPPINO
- Choose only the freshest fish and seafood.
- Any combination of fish and seafood will work in this cioppino recipe. Prepare to your liking and preferences.
- For added freshness, blanch and peel fresh tomatoes as opposed to using canned, crushed tomatoes.
- Fennel can be replaced with celery.
- Adjust the heat level to your liking.
- Allow the seafood broth to simmer to develop flavor.
- Remove and reserve the clams and mussels as they open to ensure tenderness. Overcooking can cause the clams and mussels to become rubbery.
- Taste for salt throughout the cooking process.
- Try not to overcook the fish/seafood.
- Serve immediately.
HOW TO SERVE AND STORE HOMEMADE CIOPPINO
- Crusty Bread: Place slices of crusty sourdough bread or a baguette on a separate plate or in a basket. The bread is essential for soaking up the flavorful broth. For added texture, toast the bread.
- Utensils: Provide both a soup spoon and a fork. The spoon is perfect for sipping the rich broth, while the fork can be used to enjoy the seafood.
- Napkins: Cioppino can be a messy dish, especially when cracking crab legs or digging into clams and mussels. Make sure to provide plenty of napkins and bowls for the empty shells.
Leftover Seafood Stew
Cioppino tastes even better the next day. Store the seafood stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When reheating, do so gently over low heat to avoid overcooking the seafood.
You can enjoy it as is or get creative. Cioppino makes a fantastic pasta sauce, or you can transform it into a seafood risotto.
MORE HEARTY SEAFOOD SOUPS AND STEWS TO LOVEPrint
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WELCOME! My name is Melissa Latin aka. Charlotte Fashion Plate. Happy to meet you! I am more than just recipes. I love fashion and style too! Most importantly, I love my Family (my Hubby and my Fur Babies). My Husband (aka my “Kitchen Bitch”) means the world to me. He’s pretty damn cool too. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, he also has had a lengthy career in professional hockey. Not only winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early ’90’s, but most recently winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers, amongst many other accolades. If you live in Charlotte and play hockey, or have a family member who plays, be sure to contact him!
Our life has changed dramatically in the past few years with the passing of our two goldendoodles, Vegas and Viva. We were lucky enough to have Vegas for five years (totally wish it was longer). Most recently, losing our Viva to a brain tumor in July of 2020. We welcomed our mini goldendoodle 7, almost seven years ago. We just added the amazing Hazel! Of course, I am always posting tons and tons of photos! Be sure to check out my recipe for Pet Bone Broth! This broth is super rich in nutrients and will provide your pet with a multitude of health benefits!
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