Brimming with shrimp, clams, and crab, this shellfish cioppino is deeply nourishing. Robust tomatoes and fresh herbs fill out the soup, while lemon gives it a hint of brightness.
What is it?
Cioppino is a robust seafood stew from San Francisco. Steeped in Italian-American cookery, the stew takes inspiration from traditional Mediterranean fish stews such as the Burrida from Liguria or Brodetto di Pesce from Abruzzo. Both call for layering fish and shellfish in an herby, tomato-based broth.
This shellfish cioppino has its roots in 19th-century California. Less a strict recipe and more an intuitive process of making do with what you have at hand, the dish is traditionally prepared with whichever fish and shellfish you happen to have available.
in the 19th century, Italian immigrants to San Francisco would often fish together. If one had a slow day or ended up empty-handed, others were asked to chip in and lend a little of their own catch to the stew pot. That spirit of generosity coupled with the vibrant flavors of Italian cookery makes for a gorgeous fish stew.
What's in it?
Cioppino recipes vary, depending on the seasonal availability of fish, shellfish, and herbs. In essence, it's a dish primarily made up of what you happen to have access to. Accordingly, there's plenty of room for experimentation and variation. In this version of shellfish cioppino, you'll find crab, shrimp, and clams in a robust tomato broth spiked with pepper and herbs.
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