San Francisco’s cioppino (cho-pea-no) is an Italian take on the traditional French dish bouillabaisse.
This dish has been served in American restaurants since the late 1800s when Portuguese and Italian fishermen who had colonized the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco carried their onboard catch-of-the-day stew back to land.
During the Gold Rush, many Italian fishermen emigrated from the Liguria region of Italy, so it’s not surprising that cioppino was named after their traditional fish stew, which was cooked in a tomato base with wine and spices and featured chopped fish (whatever was plentiful, but almost always crab).
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large shallots, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 5 cups fish stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound manila clams, scrubbed
- 1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
- 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunks.
- Oil should be heated in a big saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and cook until the onion is translucent approximately 10 minutes. Sauté for 2 minutes after adding the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Mix in the tomato paste. Put in the wine, fish stock, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, until the ingredients are just about done. Turn the stove down to low. When the flavors have combined, which should take around 30 minutes if you cover and simmer.
- Put the shellfish into the cooking liquid such as clams and mussels. Cook the clams and mussels, covered, for approximately 5 minutes or until they begin to open. Put in the fish and shrimp. Stir gently and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, or until the fish and shrimp are opaque and the clams have opened (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Add more salt and red pepper flakes to the soup if desired.
- To serve, divide the soup into bowls.