Cioppino is a seafood stew that originated in San Francisco, specifically from the immigrant workers at the docks known as Fisherman’s Wharf and contains a variety of seafood cooked in a tomato and white wine based broth. The dish combines Italian and American flavors for a fragrant and filling stew with briny seafood flavor. While there are tons of combinations of seafood that can be added to the stew, for this particular recipe I chose to go with scallops, shrimp, halibut, swordfish, mussels, clams and snow crab claws. Since the recipe originated in the bay area I chose to serve mine with sourdough – the bread that automatically comes to mind when I think of San Francisco. If you’re unfamiliar with the area – it’s famous for Boudin, a bakery known for it’s sourdough bread. While the main store is on the touristy side it’s still a must stop for me.
Be sure to use both high quality seafood as well as seafood stock in the recipe. While you can make stock yourself, I usually take a shortcut and pick mine up from my local seafood market, Santa Monica Seafood. When it comes to adding the seafood, I add it at various times to keep the fish and shellfish from becoming tough and chewy – nothing ruins the stew faster than tough fish. Serve with extra bowls for discarding shells.
I get my fresh seafood from a local store, Santa Monica Seafood, as it has a great selection of fish with plenty of sustainable options. Click the link here for an exclusive coupon for your next order from Santa Monica Seafood!
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
¼ cup chopped celery
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
½ cup chopped leek, whites only
¼ cup chopped fennel bulb
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups seafood stock
½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ pound "dry-packed" sea scallops, side-muscle removed
¾ pound jumbo (21/25) shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ pound halibut, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ pound swordfish, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
½ pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
4 snow crab claws, cooked
1 tablespoon fennel fronds
Sourdough bread, warmed and sliced for serving
Heat a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt then add the onion, celery, carrot, leek and fennel to the pot and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté an additional 30 seconds.
Add the tomato paste and stir to combine then add the wine and deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes, seafood stock, oregano and bay leaves then lower the heat and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat through. Add a tablespoon of butter and allow to melt. Season the shrimp and scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté until no longer pink and translucent, about a minute on each side. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Add the remaining oil and butter to the pan, then add the scallops and cook until lightly browned on each side and just barely cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the scallops from the pan and place on a plate, covered. Return the pan to the heat and add ½ cup of water to deglaze the pan, then add the deglazed bits to the cooking pot of broth (this will add additional flavor).
Add the halibut and swordfish to the broth and cook until the fish flakes easily, about 10 minutes. Add the clams and mussels to the broth then cover and cook until both open, about an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shrimp, scallops and snow crab claws to the broth and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Discard the bay leaves then ladle the stew into soup bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.