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Cioppino: the best recipe for a hearty, flavorful seafood stew

Total time: 1H10
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
halibu, sea bass, or other white fish, cut into inch-long cubes
3 pounds
cooked Dungeness crab
2 pounds
large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound
littleneck clams and/or mussels, scrubbed clean, beards removed
2 pounds
for the sauce
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup
Chopped onion
1 1/2 cups
chopped bell pepper
1 cup
Garlic, minced
3 cloves
1 tsp
1 28-ounce can
broth from the mollusks
Red wine
2 cups
Tomato juice
2 cups
fish or shellfish stock
2 cups
bouquet garni
1 bag
minced parsley for garnish
1/2 cup
salt and pepper to taste

Everyone loves a great-tasting, nourishing stew when the weather begins to turn chilly, and Cioppino or San Francisco-style seafood stew is one of the best around. It's a phenomenal alternative to beef stew and features a mouthwatering variety of fresh seafood like crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, and fish served in a rich tomato sauce that has been flavored with red wine, vegetables, and herbs. Cioppino is an outstanding recipe that seafood lovers will adore. Don't forget to serve it with plenty of crusty sourdough bread – you'll want to mop up every last drop!

What is Cioppino?

Cioppino is a classic Italian-American dish with origins in San Francisco's Italian immigrant community. It's a stew made from a medley of seafood including fish, mollusks, and shellfish. It was traditionally made with whatever fishermen were able to catch on the day.

How to Make Cioppino

While making Cioppino might seem a bit tricky, it's actually perfectly easy to make. Steam the clams and mussels in a pot until they just pop open. Put them aside and strain out the broth to use later in the recipe.

Heat a little oil in a pot and saute your peppers and onions until they begin to soften. Mix in the garlic and cook it until it turns fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes, red wine, mussel broth, seafood stock, and herbs. Let the liquids simmer away on the hob for 20 minutes. You're almost there!

Put the fish into broth and heat until it's just cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Finally, add the clams, mussels, crab, and shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink. Turn off the heat and ladle the Cioppino into bowls. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of parsley and enjoy!

Tips for Making the Best Cioppino

– Use high-quality fresh seafood to make your Cioppino.

– You can serve the crab in the shell or removed it from the shell. The latter is less messy but leaving the crab in the shell makes for a more aesthetically pleasing dish.

– Try to keep the crab meat in larger chunks.

– Don't forget to taste the broth as you go along and adjust the seasoning as needed.

– Be sure not to overcook the shrimp once added.

– You can make the broth ahead separately, then add the seafood in right before you plan on serving it. Adding fresh seafood to made-ahead broth ensures your Cioppino will taste its best, rather than reheating a stew with all the seafood already in it.

What to Serve with Cioppino

Cioppino is a hearty dish best served with some crusty bread or homemade dinner rolls. It's also lovely with a light green salad.

How to Store Seafood Stew

Leftover cioppino can be transferred to an airtight container and put in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. One thing to bear in mind – shrimp doesn't reheat well. It can become tough if overcooked, so try and enjoy all the shrimp in the stew the same day you make it.


Steam clams and mussels in 2 cups of water until they open. Drain and reserve the broth and set the mussels and clams to the side.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions and peppers for several minutes, until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Pour in the tomatoes, reserved mussel broth, red wine, tomato juice, fish stock, bouquet garni, salt, and pepper. Let it come to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, then take out the bouquet garni.

Add the fish, place the lid on the pot and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Add in the mussels, clams, crabmeat, and shrimp. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are pink.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley.


Keep a few bowls on the table for the shells, plus some extra napkins.

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