Cioppino - American-Italian Style Seafood Stew (2024)

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Cioppino is a seafood lover’s dream come true. Use this easy cioppino recipe as a guide, adding the seafood you have on hand, or prefer to have in the dish. As long as your seafood is fresh, it’s a winner!

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I don’t share too many American-Italian dishes because my mother was born in Italy.

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Most of you know that the food I grew up with is a lot more authentic Italian. However, that doesn’t mean that’s all I make. I’m open to any type of cuisine, as long as it’s good quality, and delicious! What does burn my cookies is when non-Italian food is labeled as “Italian” or worse, “traditional, or authentic Italian”!

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I mean, if someone who loves seafood is presented with a piping hot bowl full of this beautiful cioppino, along with some grilled or crusty bread, how could they refuse? If you love seafood, this is for you!

You may find that my recipe is a bit more Italian than the typical American-Italian dish. I do not use clam juice (there’s enough seafood flavor from the fresh seafood that I feel it’s unnecessary). I also do not add oregano, or any other herbs, other than fresh, Italian parsley.

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Why does this make it more “Italian” you ask? Typically, Italians do not make dishes that are “full of herbs and spices”, contrary to popular belief. I also prefer to enjoy cioppino with plain, fresh crusty bread, versus toasted, or garlic bread, but obviously you can choose your favorite.

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What is Cioppino?

Cioppino is a seafood stew that was created by Italian immigrant fishermen in San Francisco in the late 1800s. They used whatever was in the “catch of the day”. It’s quite probably a form of the Ligurian cacciucco (seafood stew). So most seafood can go in your cioppino, such as fish, shellfish, squid, shrimp, scallops and crab. You could even add prime pieces of seafood like lobster tail.

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Using Good Quality Seafood

If you have been following me for any amount of time (Christina’s Cucina will be 10 years old later this year), you will know that I am constantly on my soapbox about the quality of ingredients. One of the most important times that this comes into play is with seafood. Fish should never smell, or taste “fishy”. If you’ve had fresh seafood, you know this is true. There is nothing worse than smelly, poor quality fish, shellfish, or other seafood.

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So be sure you’re buying top quality seafood.

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I love wild caught Mexican shrimp and PEI mussels.

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Love seafood? What about trying my dad’s fish recipe from his chip shop in Glasgow?

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The fresh haddock reminded me of the fish my dad used to get at the fish and chip shop in Scotland.

My seafood pasta recipe is another great meatless meal that’s ready in minutes, honest!
(Read all the rave reviews!)

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I hope you enjoy my cioppino recipe as much as I do. Since there is just my husband and me at home now, I made the recipe for two. Just double or triple the ingredients for a larger pot and more servings. If you want something more simple, try my shrimp and garlic pasta. Buon appetito!

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Cioppino (Italian-American Seafood Stew)

Recipe loosely adapted from Bluewater Grill serves 2

FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW

Prepare the Seafood 🦐

  • Clams and mussels: scrub the shells, de-beard the mussels by pulling the “beards” towards the back of the shell, and place them in a bowl of water (you can add salt if you like, or not) for 20 minutes.
  • Scallops: brine the scallops for about 10 minutes (1.5 Tbsp Kosher salt in 8 oz of water). Afterwards, place them on a rack to dry.
  • Shrimp: although some cioppini are made with the whole shrimp, I prefer to remove the shells (devein them if they haven’t been cleaned) and just leave on the tail.
  • Fish: slice the haddock (or cod, salmon or whatever fish you prefer) into medium sized pieces.
  • Crab: put the amount of lump crab meat you’ll be using in a bowl and set aside.

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Prepare the Cioppino Base 🌶

Have all of your ingredients chopped and ready to use. Put the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. I used this Staub braiser. When hot, add the garlic, onion and red pepper; add about a ¼ teaspoon of Kosher or sea salt.

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Sauté for about 3 minutes, then add the chopped celery leaf.

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If you cannot source celery leaves, add a little chopped celery and Italian parsley, instead.

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Increase the heat to medium high and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Next, add the white wine.

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When the mixture is simmering, add the tomato puree or chopped tomatoes. Be sure to use good quality tomatoes; this is so important! You don’t want to ruin all your beautiful, fresh seafood with acidic, bitter tasting tomatoes.

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Finally, add the stock, or water. The amount of salt you add will vary depending on if you use stock (which already has salt) or water. If using water, add at least 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls of Kosher or sea salt. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.

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Cook the Seafood 🐟

Start by adding the clams as they take the longest to cook. After adding the clams, put the lid onto the pot and set a timer for 5 minutes.

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When the timer is up, add the mussels and pieces of fish, sprinkle the pieces of fish with a little salt and put the lid on again. Set the timer for another 3 minutes.

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When the timer sounds, add the shrimp and scallops and cook with the lid on for a few more minutes, until all the seafood is cooked and shellfish are open. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper.

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As I stated above, all of my shellfish were good, so there was no need for me to remove any. You can top the cioppino with the crab meat at this point, and put the lid on to warm it. I didn’t do this simply because I wanted to take photos of the cioppino in dishes with the crab on top. Finish the dish with chopped parsley.

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That’s it–so easy, isn’t it?

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Serve the Cioppino and Bread 🥖

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Spoon the cioppino into large bowls and serve with your choice of bread. It’s so, so good!

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Enjoy!

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Have the urge to splurge? Try this easy lobster pasta recipe!

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Cioppino (American Italian Style Seafood Stew)

Yield: 2

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

A classic Italian-American seafood dish which originated in San Francisco consisting of a melange of many types of fish and shellfish.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup diced fresh red pepper
  • leaves from stalk of fresh celery, chopped (or ¼ cup chopped celery and parsley)
  • 4 oz (½ c) white wine
  • 6 oz (¾ c) fish stock, veg stock or water
  • 4 oz (½ c) tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 oz white fish, like haddock
  • 6 Littleneck clams
  • 6 mussels
  • 6 medium to large shrimp
  • 2 or 4 scallops, depending on size
  • 2 to 4 oz fresh, lump crabmeat
  • chopped fresh Italian parsley

Instructions

Prepare the Seafood

  1. Clams and mussels: scrub the shells, de-beard the mussels by pulling the "beards" towards the back of the shell, and place them in a bowl of water (you can add salt if you like, or not) for 20 minutes.
  2. Scallops: brine the scallops for about 10 minutes (1.5 Tbsp Kosher salt in 8 oz of water). Afterwards, place them on a rack to dry.
  3. Shrimp: although some cioppini are made with the whole shrimp, I prefer to remove the shells (devein them if they haven't been cleaned) and just leave on the tail.
  4. Fish: slice into medium sized pieces.
  5. Crab: put the amount of lump crab meat you'll be using in a bowl and set aside.

Prepare the Cioppino Base

  1. Have all of your ingredients chopped and ready to use. Put the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. I used this Staub braiser. When hot, add the garlic, onion and red pepper; add about a ¼ teaspoon of Kosher or sea salt.
  2. Sauté for about 3 minutes, then add the chopped celery leaf.
  3. If you cannot source celery leaves, add a little chopped celery and Italian parsley, instead.
  4. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Next, add the white wine.
  5. When the mixture is simmering, add the tomato puree or chopped tomatoes. Be sure to use good quality tomatoes; this is so important! You don't want to ruin all your beautiful, fresh seafood with acidic, and bitter tasting tomatoes.
  6. Lastly, add the stock, or water. The amount of salt you add will vary depending on if you used stock (which already has salt) or water. If using water, add at least a teaspoon of Kosher or sea salt. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Cook the Seafood

  1. Start by adding the clams as they take the longest to cook. After adding the clams, put the lid onto the pot and set a timer for 5 minutes.
  2. When the timer is up, add the mussels and pieces of fish, sprinkle the pieces of fish with a little salt and put the lid on again. Set the timer for another 3 minutes.
  3. When the timer sounds, add the shrimp and scallops and cook with the lid on for a few more minutes, until all the seafood is cooked and shellfish are open.Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper.
  4. You can top the cioppino with the crab meat at this point, and put the lid on to warm it. Finish the dish with chopped parsley.

Notes

  • Make this cioppino dish your own by using the seafood you most enjoy and omitting those you don't.
Nutrition Information:

Yield: 2Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 800Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 451mgSodium: 250mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 160g

Nutrition information is only an estimate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Cioppino - American-Italian Style Seafood Stew (2024)
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