Weir Cooking in the City: Cioppino with Crab, Clams, and Shrimp

Serves: 6

For years, the Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics, and Italians have all done their share to add wonderful flavors to the City-by-the-Bay table. Cioppino, a simple shellfish and fish stew, is thought to have been brought to San Francisco in the early twentieth century by the Italians. Its name comes from the word in the Genoese dialect cioppin, and translates as "a tasty stew of various qualities of fish." Today cioppino remains a San Francisco treat that pairs well with sourdough bread. The shellfish is left in the shell so you better get out plenty of napkins, bibs, and finger bowls.

You can prepare the base well ahead of time and add the fish at the last minute.

• 2 cooked Dungeness crabs
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 pound snapper or rock cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
• 2 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
• 2 cups water
• 2 1/2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (fresh or canned)
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 bay leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound clams, scrubbed
• 1 pound large shrimp in their shell
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley as a garnish

Remove the back shell from the crab and discard. Remove the gills and wash the inside of the crab.

Over a bowl, break the crab in half from top to bottom, making two identical halves. Reserve the crab liquid.

Cut each half into 3 pieces so that each piece of the body is attached to a leg or claw. Crack the legs and claws.

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the crab pieces and crab liquid. Add the snapper and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to high, add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes.

Lower the heat and stir in the fish stock and water.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, basil, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the clams and shrimp and simmer until the clams open, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

To serve, ladle the cioppino into bowls and garnish with the parsley.

Wine suggestion: Chianti or Barbera

Recipe ©2004 Joanne Weir from Weir Cooking in the City, reprinted by permission.