Cioppino is a fish and shellfish stew originating in San Francisco and made primarily with Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, fish, tomatoes, and either red or white wine. The word Cioppino, (chee-o-pino) comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa meaning, “chopped”. The stew was developed in the late 1800’s by the Italian fishermen that settled in the North Beach Neighborhood of San Francisco. It was originally made on fishing boats while out at sea. It was not long before the stew began gaining popularity at seaside restaurants and later with people outside of the Italian community. Cioppino is similar to many shellfish soups like cacciucco, brodetto, and bouillabaisse.
The seafood is cooked in a rich broth and served in the shell, including the crab, which can be served halved or quartered. A crab fork and cracker are required to enjoy this hearty stew. The stew is brought to the table in the pot it was cooked in and is accompanied by slabs of sourdough bread, brushed with olive oil and lightly grilled. Cioppino can be messy to eat, especially with the shells still on the crab, so plenty of napkins are necessary when enjoying this dish.
There are many ways to prepare Cioppino and they are all fairly easy and can be ready in about an hour! Everything is cooked in one pot. The three main ingredients are shellfish, or whatever seafood you happen to have, tomatoes, and red or white wine. The first step after gathering your ingredients is to cook the broth. For this, you will need to add tomatoes, wine, and whatever you’d like to add for flavor. For example, you can add garlic, red pepper flakes, or even ginger. Finally, add the seafood and let it simmer in the broth until it is ready. When you need to prepare dinner for friends and family in a pinch, a hearty Cioppino is guaranteed to make everyone happy.
Common seafood used in cioppino:
- Dungeness Crab
- White Fish
Links to recipes: