What a Stew! Cioppino, that is!

There are a couple of very famous fish stews….the French Bouillabaisse which originates from the Mediterranean fishing port of Marseille is one. All along the Italian coast, families took this classic and adapted it to the fish, vegetables and herbs native to their locale.

The fisherman in the San Francisco bay – many of whose families came from Italy and well remembered their home versions – sought to make their own version and Cioppino (pronounced Cho-pee-no) was born.

Here is a great recipe – it has a lot of good stuff in it – so plan it for a hearty meal with a hot loaf of Sourdough (or French) bread, a nice bottle of wine, and people who love good food!

Cioppino

  • 1/4 c good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1 rib celery, chopped (no leaves)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1  28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 c clam juice or fish stock
  • 2 c white wine
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Dungeness crab (about 2 lbs), cracked and cleaned or 1 lb. frozen crabmeat, thawed
  • 2 lbs. halibut fillet, cut into 1″ strips (or other firm fish like cod)
  • 24 large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 12 mussels
  • 1/2 bunch Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped

In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter and oil and saute the celery and onion until soft, about 10  minutes. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the seafood and salt. Simmer uncovered, on low for about 1 hour. If the ‘soup’ gets too thick, add a splash of hot water. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary. Discard bay leaf.

Add the crab, halibut, and prawns and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mussels, cover the pot again and simmer for 3 minutes until the mussels open; turn off the heat (discard any mussels that did not open.) Stir in the parsley.

Ladle into bowls being sure each bowl gets some of each of the seafood. Serves 6

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