Monday, September 1, 2014

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish all sourced from the Pacific Ocean. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread.

Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. 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 spoken in Genoa meaning "to chop" or "chopped," which describes the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day's catch. Ciuppin is also the name of a classic soup from the region, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew ("zuppe di pesce (it)") similar to ciuppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto (it) from Abruzzo, Quatàra di Porto Cesareo (it), and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix (ca) from Catalan-speaking regions of coastal Spain and bouillabaisse from Provence.

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew
Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew Recipe From Wikibooks Cookbook

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
6 ounces onion, chopped
8 ounces of celery, 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
6 ounces tomato paste

2 pounds diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups of water
1 bay leaf
2 pounds crabs, any type, cut into pieces
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound scallops
1 1/2 pounds tilapia cut into two-inch chunks (or substitute any fish with a white, firm flesh)
2 loaves of San Francisco sourdough bread or any other bread with a chewy crust

This recipe calls for live mussels. Here are some safety guidelines for buying, eating and cooking live bivalves (mussels and clams): Never buy a mussel/clam that's open or cracked. Never eat a mussel/clam that won't open after cooking. Cook mussels/clams within 24 hours of purchasing. Always brush mussels/clams clean before cooking. Remove beards from mussels as well.

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and three quarters of a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and sauté for two minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, water, crabs, celery and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Add the mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the mussels begin to open. This should take about five minutes. Add the scallops and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and scallops are just cooked through and all the mussels are completely open, gently stirring occasionally. This should take about another 10 minutes. Check the soup for closed mussels and throw them out. Remove the bay leaf. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
It's customary to serve cioppino with San Francisco sourdough bread. However, any bread with a thick, chewy crust will do.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Wikibooks Cookbook || Image Credit: Flickr/CreativeCommons