Everyone has their version of a seafood soup or stew, and one of my favorites is Cioppino, which hails from the Italian immigrants who settled in San Francisco. It’s not a dish one would easily find in a city like Manila, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it in a little gem of an Italian restaurant called Casa Nostra. After a thoroughly enjoyable evening savoring my cioppino, I was determined to make it at home – after all, Manila has some of the best fresh seafood available!
Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s by Portuguese and Italian
fishermen who settled in the North Beach section of San Francisco.
Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became
a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco. The
name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port
city of Genoa, meaning “to chop” or “chopped” which described the
process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the
day’s catch. At least one restaurant in San Francisco, the
eponymous Cioppino’s, describes an apocryphal story in which the
name derived from the heavily Italian-accented cry of the wharf cooks
for the fishermen to “chip in” some of their catch to the collective
This is one of the best Italian recipes in my opinion (adapted from Bobby Flay), and fairly easy to make, provided you find the freshest seafood possible. Bobby makes sourdough croutons to go with these, but you can just as easily serve it with thick slices of any country-style bread.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 5 cups fish stock
- 1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds bass fillets, cut into 2-inch squares
- 16 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 32 clams
- 24 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- Few dashes hot sauce
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the fish stock, drained tomatoes, bay and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes
While the broth is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat in separate large saute pan. Season the bass on both sides with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
To the same pan, add another 2 tablespoons of oil, season the shrimp and saute until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove to the plate with the bass.
Add the clams, mussels, bass and shrimp to the reduced broth and cook until the clams and mussels open, discarding any that do not open, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and tarragon and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add hot sauce, to taste.