CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Cioppino

American Heart Month and Lent happen to coincide this year, and that’s good news for people who love fish.

Fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids as is shrimp, which make them all good candidates for heart healthy foods as well as fodder for those meatless Fridays that many observe during the Lenten season.

Here is a recipe for cioppino (pronounced chay-pee-no), a delicious Italian-American dish that originated in San Francisco in the late 19th century. Although the exact origins of cioppino are obscure, most agree it was Italian and Portuguese immigrant fisherman who developed it.

Wherever it came from or whoever created this tasty dish, it’s definitely the catch of the day in my  book.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
¼ cup tomato paste
1 28-can diced tomatoes in juice
1½ cups dry white wine
1 cup crab meat
5 cups fish stock
1 bay leaf
½ pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1½ pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or Alaskan pollack, cut into 2-inch chunks.
Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ¾  teaspoon of red pepper flakes and salute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes with juice, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
Add the shrimp, crab meat and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
Lade the soup into bowls and serve.

2 thoughts on “CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Cioppino”

  • Jim Fuglie February 17, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    We make this a couple times a year, usually using bay scallops instead of crab meat. We make a big pot of broth, then add just as much seafood as we want for one meal, then save the leftover broth and do it again a few days later. Better the second time. One of the stories I’ve heard behind the name is, at the end of the day, the fishermen on the wharf in San Francisco “chipped in” what they had left over into a pot of tomato based broth, and then they all ate together. Hence the American pronunciation, chip-een-o.

    1. Jim Fuglie February 17, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Oh, and we add either clams or mussels just for fun–and they look pretty in the bowl.


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