Every time I’m in San Francisco I have to make my way down to the Pier to find crab. It’s one of the primary ingredients used in the restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. Through the hustle and chaos of the city, you can see food vendors lining the pier selling whole crab, crab chowder, crab cakes, and crab stews.
Cioppino is a warm, slightly spicy, tomato and seafood stew that was developed in San Francisco, and it’s perfect for a cold winter day like today! It reminds me of salt air, the wharfs, and the sea lions.
This flavourful dish isn’t shy on ingredients. Cioppino uses a combination of dungeness crab, shrimp, mussels, and sea bass in a deep spicy tomato and fennel sauce. It is amazing finished off with fresh lemon juice and a dip of warm bread fresh out of the oven.
Recipe for San Francisco Style Cioppino:
1 Pound Fresh Dungeness Crab (Or Jonah, if Dungeness is Unavailable)
1/2 Pound of Mussels
1/2 Pound of Shrimp (In Shell – Deveined)
1/4 – 1/2 Pound of Sea Bass (or other firm, white fish)
1 Carrot, Chopped
1 Small Yellow Onion, Diced
1/2 Green Pepper, Diced
1 Rib of Celery, Diced
3 Garlic Cloves (Minced)
2 – 3 Serrano Chilis, Minced (Note: I love heat. Feel free to tone this down)
1 Teaspoon of Fennel Seeds
2 Bay Leaves
1 Cup of High Quality White Wine
2 Teaspoons of White Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
4-5 Cups of Fish Stock
Fresh Basil (Rolled and Sliced)
Fresh, Coarsely Ground Peppercorn
Instructions for San Francisco Style Cioppino:
1: Place a deep pan over medium heat, and drizzle with olive oil. Drop your diced green pepper, onion, carrot, and celery into the pan. Sauté for about 3 minutes.
2: Add your minced garlic, diced serrano chilis, fennel seeds and bay leaves. Sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add white wine, white wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Allow it to simmer until it has mostly reduced, and the alcohol burns off.
3: Add in crushed tomatoes, fish stock, fresh basil, kosher salt (to taste), and freshly cracked peppercorn. Stir, and cover. Reduce your heat to low. Allow your sauce to simmer for about an hour.
4: Strain your sauce, reserving liquid. With a spatula, press down on your vegetables in the strainer to draw out as much sauce as possible. Return the sauce to your pot. Taste, and season if required.
5: Increase the heat from low to medium. Poach your sea bass (or white fish) in your sauce for about 10 minutes. While your bass is poaching, boil salt water on another element. Boil your crab legs, mussels, and shrimp.
6: Toss all seafood into the sauce. Allow to simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Ladle, and serve in bowls alongside warm toasted bread and lemons. Garnish with fresh dill.