The locavore movement is increasingly influential as is the concept of sustainability in the cuisine of the Western United States. Specialties in the Northwest, including salmon, blackberries and mushrooms are found in abundance and are major influences. A growing wine industry is of great importance to the West Coast as well, and was a leading factor in the evolution of California Cuisine. Let us not leave out the importance of hunting. Wild game including, elk, bison, and duck are also prominent in Western menus.
West coast Cioppino (pronounced chuh-PEE-no) is considered San Francisco's signature dish, and no trip to the west coast is complete without it. Cioppino can be prepared with a dozen kinds of fish and shellfish, depending on your personal taste and what is fresh in your area.
Considered to be an Italian-American dish, it is typically made from Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish all sourced from the Pacific Ocean. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes and wine and served with crusty bread, typically sourdough.
This fish stew was developed in the late 1800's primarily by Italian immigrants who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. The name comes from ciuppin which is the name of a classic soup from the Italian region of Liguria.
You won't believe how easy it is to make. The key to this recipe is experimentation. Be creative with this stew and feel free to leave something out or add something new.
San Francisco Cioppino
3/4 cup butter
2 medium white onions, chopped
3 garlic gloves, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley leaves, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans plum tomatoes
2 bottles (8 oz) clam juice
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups white wine
12 manila clams, scrubbed (discard any open clams)
12 mussels, scrubbed and beards removed (discard any open mussels)
1 pound raw extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound bay scallops
1 pound fish fillets (halibut, cod or salmon) cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup flaked Dungeness crab meat
salt and pepper
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter; add onions, garlic and parsley. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until onions are softened.
Add tomatoes, clam juice, spices and wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and simmer approximately 30 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, add additional wine.
While sauce is cooking, soak clams and mussels in cold salted water for 5 minutes and then drain.
Gently stir in the clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, fish and crab to the prepared stock. Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes until clams pop open and shrimp are opaque.
Remove from heat and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle broth and seafood into large bowl and serve with bread.
Makes 8-10 (1 1/2 cup) servings
The Fisherman's Wharf restaurant that credits itself with bringing cioppino to the restaurant atmosphere is Alioto's.
In North Beach, the Clam House has been open since 1861 and serves a huge bowl of ciopinno for $30