Saying I love seafood ranks as a huge understatement. It doesn’t matter what type or what course, I’ll generally take the ocean’s bounty over any other food.
And when a dish combines seafood, what more could I ask?
Recently, while visiting my sister Laura during her stay at the beach, she made Cioppino using one Giada De Laurentiis’s recipes as a guideline. After enjoying it so much, I made a stab at it after getting home.
Curious about its beginnings, I learned Cioppino is an Italian-American dish that originated in San Francisco. Immigrants from Genoa, Italy, settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco in the 1800s. Fisherman would use their catch of the day to make the dish while still out at sea. Eventually, the stew made its way to homes and restaurants. Alioto’s, a San Francisco landmark, apparently put this stew on the map.
The broth combines tomatoes, wine, onion, garlic and herbs. A combination of shrimps, scallops, mussels, clams or whatever else is available completes the dish.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 clove garlic, minced
1¾ cups dry white wine
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, San Marzano
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 pound extra large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound sea scallops, halved
1 pound Pei mussels
Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish (option)
In a 4-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, stirring frequently, and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Do not let the garlic brown.
Add the wine, crushed tomatoes, clam juice, sugar, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, oregano, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
While the soup base cooks, prep the seafood. When soup base is done, add the clams and bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook until the clams have opened halfway. Then gently add the shrimp, scallops and mussels. Once done, discard any unopened clams or mussels.
Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread.