This is a classic San Francisco riff on an Italian zuppa di pesce, or brodetto. Cioppino is often made around the holidays because December is peak Dungeness crab season, and it is a warm, comforting, and filling meal. My family has been making this recipe from the Walnut Creek Yacht Club every Christmas eve for the past 15 or so years, and it is delicious. It’s also customizable, so, for example, if you prefer more clams to mussels, go for it. Bonus: If you have too much stock freeze it and use it in your next batch. -Tyler Elmore
14 cups (1 #10 can) diced tomato in juice
2 cups yellow onion, diced
2 cups celery, diced
1 cup fennel, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp garlic, sliced
8 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano
3 bay leaves
3 tbsp thyme, fresh, chopped
1 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp black pepper, fresh ground
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups white wine white
2 cups fish stock
1 loaf of sourdough (for dipping)
Seafood per person:
¼ Dungeness crab, cracked
3 1 oz chunks firm fish, swordfish is nice
Heat oil, add sliced garlic, and cook until it just starts to brown, then add onions, celery, carrots, and fennel. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add half the salt and pepper.
Add chopped garlic, red chili flakes, and herbs, except parsley.
Sauté for a few more minutes.
Add white wine and cook for 5 minutes on high to reduce, then add fish stock and cook for 5 minutes on high to reduce. Add chopped tomatoes with juice.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Taste and add half the parsley.
Add seafood: start with the mussels, then clams, then prawns, and then fish and crab. When the clams and mussels are open and the fish is cooked it’s done.
Don’t overcrowd the pot!
If you don’t have any fish stock, canned clam juice will work. Or even water—just up the salt, pepper, and seasoning a little bit. Taste. Add the rest of the salt and pepper if you think it needs it, but you’ll most likely only need the pepper as the clams and mussels are salty. Pour into a big bowl or serve it right out of the pot. Sprinkle with the other half of the parsley.
Taste and adjust. You can use ground tomatoes too if you prefer—it will be a little thicker.
You can adjust this to your preferences—I usually double the crab.
Chef photo and recipe by Chef Kevin Weinberg of Walnut Creek Yacht Club.