To warm up with a bowl of home-cooked seafood stew, repeat after me – Cioppino! Cioppino! Full of flavor, this tomato-based soup with clams, mussels, crab, shrimp, squid, fish, and scallops is a real treat for Sunday dinner. Enjoy with some crusty bread.
Whenever I return from the hot & humid, late summer weather in Japan, and try to adjust back to the windy, cool fall days of San Francisco, I immediately crave a steamy bowl of seafood stew. My favorite is the local San Francisco dish called Cioppino.
Cioppino – Flavorful Seafood Stew
Cioppino is an Italian-American dish that originated in San Francisco. The seafood stew is traditionally made from the catch-of-the-day including Dungeness crab, clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, scallops, and fish (read more here). My family and friends really enjoy seafood stew as well, so for dinner on cold days, it’s either Cioppino or sometimes an easy French seafood stew Bouillabaisse (One of my favorite dishes on JOC!).
There are many Cioppino recipes out there, but the recipe I used is from the famous fish market in Moss Landing – Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery. While I was researching for a delicious Cioppino recipe, I found this video – Throwdown with Bobby Flay at Phil’s Fish Market. You guessed it, they competed to see who can make the best Cioppino!
I adapted their Cioppino recipe a little by reducing the serving size and changing some ingredients. I was afraid of including the whole Dungeness crab (I became allergic to crab in my early 20’s…so sad!), so I only included a bit of crab meat instead.
Please don’t get intimidated by the long list of ingredients because the process is fairly simple, and it’s really worth it at the end. I know you will enjoy this yummy Cioppino seafood stew. I definitely need a big bowl right now… it’s so cold!
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic (chopped)
- ¼ cup white wine (4 Tbsp)
- ½ lb little neck clams
- ¼ lb mussels
- 8 cups Cioppino Sauce (2 QT; recipe follows)
- ¼ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 ½ lb dungeness crab (cooked, cleaned and cracked, to save time I bought ¼ lb (113 g) cooked crab meat instead)
- ¼ lb shrimp (shell-on if possible for more flavor)
- ¼ lb squid tubes (cut in rings)
- ½ lb firm-fleshed white fish fillets (I used Pacific Cod, cut in 2-inch (5 cm) cubes)
- 2 oz bay scallops
For Cioppino Sauce
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½-1 onion (halved and thinly sliced)
- 1 fennel bulb (halved, core removed, and thinly sliced)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 Tbsp chopped sweet basil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 can tomatoes (14.5 oz, 411 g; peeled, crushed by hand)
- 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz, 425 g)
- 2 cups clam juice (2 8-oz (237 ml) bottles)
- ⅛ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ Tbsp brown sugar
- freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- crushed red peppers (red pepper flakes) (to taste)
- kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (to taste)
- Gather all the ingredients. If you use clams and mussels, make sure to check if the shells are cracked or opened. Those that are just slightly open may still be fresh. To check, squeeze the shell shut. If they don’t stay closed, discard them. To learn how to de-grit clams, click here. I used a 1.5-pound seafood medley from Costco, which contains mussels, clams, shrimp, and bay scallops.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel bulbs and sauté until translucent.
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, parsley, basil and thyme, and cook, stirring, just to warm the garlic. Do not let it brown.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, clam juice, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, black and red peppers, and salt to taste.
- Bring to boil and skim off fat, scum, and foam. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer uncovered for about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
- Put the olive oil, butter, and garlic in a large pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, but not brown.
- Add the wine and the clams, and cover. Turn the heat up to medium-high and steam until the clams start to open, about 3-5 minutes. Add the mussels, cover and steam until the just start to open, about 2 minutes.
- Now stir in some cioppino sauce, the Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Add the cracked crabs, if using, and the shrimp, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the fish, squid, scallops, and cooked crab meat.
- Gently stir in the rest of cioppino sauce and simmer until they are all just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook.
- Serve in large bowls, shells included. Sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve with crusty French baguette. Enjoy!
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days.