San Francisco Cioppino – Make it your own!

J-Fat's Cioppino dish, a dish with clams and shrimp.

David WilhelmRecipes1 Comment

So I recenty shared with you my love for fish tacos as one of my favorite summer time lunches, and truth be told, I’m a very early riser so I’ve sometimes enjoyed them for breakfast topped with some lightly scrambled eggs.

But for our cool summer California nights when I’m really hungry one of my favs is to make a big bowl of spicy Cioppino.

Said to have been created by an Italian San Francisco immigrant fisherman, it was originally a chile flake infected, tomato based stew made with whatever seafood was caught that day splashed with a little bit of yesterdays leftover wine. I’ve refined my version over the years to become a bit more sophisticated but it still retains true to the rich, fiery nature of the original.

I recently made my version for a group of friends for a birthday dinner and it received kudos as being the best Cioppino anyone had ever had… I’ve include the recipe for you so you can be the judge. Feel free to tweak mine so it can become your very own version…..after all, that’s what good chefs and cooks do.

A couple tips on making this stew:

  • First, make sure you make the broth at least one day ahead so all the flavors have a chance to meld together. Trust me on this…like soups, the second day it’s always better.
  • My recipe makes over 3 quarts so if you don’t intend to use it all at once just freeze any extra so you’re ready to go next time you’re in the mood.
  • Next, depending on the types of fish and shellfish you plan on using, you’ll need to determine which takes the longest time to cook so you can add them to the simmering broth in the correct order so all will end up being cooked just right, rather than some being under or overdone. Typically, shell fish like scallops and shrimp, if using large ones, take longer to cook than white fish. (Scallops should not be cooked all the way through, rather, they should be slightly underdone in the center. Clams take a little longer than mussels but you only want to cook both of them long enough to where they open. If you continue to cook them too long after opening they will tend to shrink, become chewy or rubbery. It may take a couple of times experimenting with this to get it just right but it’s worth the effort!

OK, so now you may think you’re all set until you start to put your shopping list together and then realize you have no idea how much fish to buy? Really simple, determine the number of people you are serving then just decide how many of each item you’d like your guests to enjoy ie. 2 shrimp, 1 scallop, 2 clams, 2 mussels, a small piece of fish, etc… then just add them all up and make your shopping list.

You’ll also want to include lots of rustic bread.

Heat it up in the oven until really crispy then slice or tear apart and serve with the Cioppino to soak up the delicious broth…you’re not going to want to waste a drop!

So this all sound great but you say you’re too busy or too tired to cook? Swing by JFAT and order up… yeah, it’s on our new summer menu too. Noticing a pattern here?


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