Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I spent my formative years growing up in a suburb north of San Francisco. It was a wonderful place to grow up. There was sunshine (when the fog didn't come in), there were liberals abound, and there was lots of good food.

The fresh seafood, of course, was abundant. I remember one time, I was probably 9 years old, my family and some friends, went to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner. It was a famous seafood restaurant (and the name of it escapes me) whose specialty was Cioppino. I had never heard of Cioppino before and was actually alarmed by the sight of so much seafood in a soup. Now, almost 25 years later, I am posting my own recipe for this wonderful fish stew.

Cioppino is essentially a tomato based fish stew. It can be made with all sorts of seafood - fish, clams, mussels, crab scallops and squid. The recipe that I post here is an easy, but tasty, version of Cioppino. I hope you enjoy it!

Serves 4

1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb cut lengthwise into six wedges
1 medium onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup red wine
8 oz. clam juice
1 pound skinless white fish fillet (I used tilapia) cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound cultivated mussels or 1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

Pulse fennel, onion, and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then stir in chopped vegetables, bay leaves, thyme, red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, covered, over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, water, wine, and clam juice and boil, covered, 20 minutes. Stir in seafood and cook, uncovered, until fish is just cooked through and if using mussels, they must open wide. Discard bay leaves.


Recipe adapted from Epicurious.