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Cioppino (Fisherman’s Stew)

5 stars based on 13 votes

Cioppino

Brimming with fresh seafood in a tomato and wine broth that tastes like the sea, cioppino (pronounced cho-pee-no) is a rustic Italian-American fish stew. Though the dish originated with Italian immigrant fishermen in San Francisco, my favorite version is served on the opposite coast at Portofino, a charming bayside restaurant in Longboat Key, FL, where we celebrate my dad’s December birthday every year. When we were there over the holidays, the chef was nice enough to share his recipe with me. This is my simplified version. To save time, I cut back on the variety of seafood called for — although crab, lobster, and mussels would all make wonderful additions. Serve it with garlic bread, focaccia, or a baguette for sopping up the broth — and don’t forget a second bowl for shells and plenty of napkins.

ingredients

Begin by heating 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and for 1 minute more. Do not brown.

onions-and-garlic

Add the wine and increase the heat to high. Boil until the wine is reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes.

reducing-wine

Add the crushed tomatoes, clam juice, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme sprigs, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.

simmering-stew

Meanwhile, while the stew is simmering, toss the fish with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the fish on the prepared baking sheet.

fish-ready-to-bake

Bake for about 10 minutes at 400°F, or until just cooked through. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. (Note: most cioppino recipes call for the fish to be simmered in the broth but I prefer to bake it separately so that it doesn’t fall apart or overcook.)

baked-fish

When the stew is done simmering, remove and discard the thyme sprigs and stir in the butter.

adding-butter

Add the clams and bring the stew back to a simmer.

adding-clams

Cover and cook for about 6 minutes, until the clams have mostly opened. Gently stir in the shrimp and bring the stew back to a simmer.

adding-shrimp

Cover and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through and the clams are completely opened, about 5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Add the chopped thyme, then taste the stew and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

stew-with-cooked-shellfish

Divide the warm fish into serving bowls. Ladle the stew over top, dividing the clams and shrimp evenly amongst the bowls. Garnish with parsley, if using, and serve with garlic bread, focaccia, or a baguette for sopping up the broth. Enjoy!

Cioppino-1

Cioppino (Fisherman's Stew)

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped shallots, from about 3 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc.
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (8 oz) bottles clam juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 7 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1-1/2 pounds firm-fleshed fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, salmon, snapper, etc., cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 pounds (about 18) littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1-1/2 pounds extra large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Fresh chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more. Do not brown.
  3. Add the wine and increase the heat to high. Boil until the wine is reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, clam juice, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme sprigs, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, while the stew is simmering, toss the fish with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the fish on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
  6. When the stew is done simmering, remove and discard the thyme sprigs and stir in the butter. Add the clams and bring the stew back to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 6 minutes, until the clams have mostly opened. Gently stir in the shrimp and bring the stew back to a simmer; cover and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through and the clams are completely opened, about 5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Add the chopped thyme, then taste the stew and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  7. Divide the warm fish into serving bowls. Ladle the stew over top, dividing the clams and shrimp evenly amongst the bowls. Garnish with parsley, if using, and serve with garlic bread, focaccia, or a baguette for sopping up the broth. And remember a second bowl for shells and plenty of napkins.
  8. Make Ahead: The stew — without seafood — can be made 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator, covered. When ready to serve, bake the fish and bring the stew to a simmer before adding the seafood.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 575
  • Fat: 23 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 69 g
  • Sodium: 2327 mg
  • Cholesterol: 287 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jenn, this looks like such a fabulous recipe for cioppino (or, as I like to call it, “Italian bouillabaisse”). ALL of your recipes are perfection. But I have a question. If I wanted to add a lobster tail or scallops or calamari to this, how should I do it? I.e. when to add any of those? And should I sear the scallops first or par-bake the lobster first? Many thanks!

    - Lisa on March 25, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Lisa, glad you like the recipes! For lobster, scallops or calamari, I’d cook them first and add at the end to be 100% sure they don’t overcook. Or if you want to par-bake the lobster and add for the last few minutes of cooking, that’s fine too…but I prefer to cook them separately b/c I have more control – especially with seafood that can get rubbery (like the ones you mention). Lmk know how it turns out!

      - Jenn on March 27, 2017 Reply
      • Thanks so much, Jenn! And I may have accidentally asked this a second time–if so, just delete. Can’t wait to try this and will let you know how it turns out!

        - Lisa on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • Hi! Just wondering…I’ve seen many recipes for cioppino that called for fennel. I’m going to make yours exactly as instructed, but curious about the ingredient or lack of. Thanks for a wonderful site. 😊

    - Beth on March 23, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Beth, I love fennel in cioppino – feel free to add it. This restaurant was adapted from the chef at Portofino, so I changed it only as necessary to make sure it would work well for home cooks.

      - Jenn on March 23, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        I made your recipe exactly as written, and it was fantastic. I wouldn’t change a thing.

        - Beth on March 26, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My husband has always loved the seafood stew from a couple of local restaurants, so I was excited when this recipe landed in my inbox. He loved the stew that I made using this recipe.

    - Susan on March 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow….this is the best! Made it exactly as published, and my hubby and I loved it! We are lovers of cioppino and found this recipe beats the best restaurants in the NW.

    - Rhonda T on February 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    We loved this. My husband doesn’t care for clams so I used cod instead but otherwise made exactly as written. It took some time but was delicious! Thank you Jen!

    - Sara on January 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I just made this tonight. Oh. My. I put in muscles, clams, scallops and shrimp. Magnificent!! So pretty and so easy. I have never made mussels or clams before…kind of felt bad for killing the little things, but somebody had to do it. The family is so impressed. I made it with the suggested arugula salad and crusty bread. Thanks so much Jen Segal. Where have you been all my life?

    - Lisa on January 27, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this exactly per the Chef’s recipe (OK maybe a bit of extra garlic) but cut the recipe in half since it was just 2 of us. Rivals the best Cioppinos I’ve have in SF and elsewhere. I’ve tried other recipes and they always came up lacking. As usual Jenn prevails.
    Thanks so much for sharing with us

    - Michael B on January 24, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This has really nice flavor and is easy to make. My husband and I both loved it. I used shrimp and grouper, and would use less sugar next time.
    Great recipe, Jenn!

    - Anne on January 18, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    made this tonight..it does take a little time to put it all together….well worth it…enjoyed it

    - Phyllis on January 17, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I lost my recipe for cioppino, so glad I did. I made this one yesterday as others I had since tried were disappointing. This is delicious and my husband will agree. I am looking forward to serving it when I have a few friends over who are also foodies as well as great cooks!

    - Brenda on January 17, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Surprisingly easy and a huge success – my friends are still emailing me 24 hours later to tell me how great this was! I paired with your Focaccia Bread and Caesar salad – both also easy and huge hits!

    - Michelle on January 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Perfect Timing! Crabmeat in fridge that had to be eaten today. This recipe was a healthier choice than my usual creamy dip, spread and cassarole recipes. Didn’t lose out on flavor either. It was scrumptious, right down to the last spoonful!!

    - Sarah on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • Looks delicious but agree with Cathy about the sodium content . It’s off the chart! Any suggestions on how this could be lessened without losing flavor?

    - Carol on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Carol, There are a few ways to reduce the sodium. You could omit or reduce the salt, but I think you’ll find the broth bland if you cut it too much. You could replace all or some of the shellfish with more fish, as shellfish are very high in sodium. And you could also replace the clam juice with low sodium fish stock. All of those changes would make a big difference in terms of sodium. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • This looks delicious. The sodium content per serving is quite high. Is there more sodium that just the added salt? Thanks.

    - Cathy on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Cathy, Clam juice and seafood, especially shellfish, are very high in sodium.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Helloooo, new subscriber and a home cooking dad. I loved this dish and plan to make it better the second time…whoops. I destroyed the shrimp by over cooking them- it doesn’t take much. I love your site, delicious looking food, the photography is amazing also. Nice job! Gary/Sarasota Fl.

    - Gary on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • This looks delish, the clams open with so much liquid? I you thought you had to steam them in a small amount of liquid for the to open. I want to make this next week for company.

    - Sherri on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • They definitely open, Sherri. Hope you enjoy it, and please come back and let me know how it turns out.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • Hello! I can’t get clam juice where I live. I was thinking that making a broth from shrimp shells, might work, but was concerned that it might not be strong enough. What would you suggest as an alternative? Thanks!

    - Adele on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Adele, I think making a broth with shrimp shells will definitely work — and it will be more economical to boot.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
      • Thanks Jenn – making it tomorrow! :)

        - Adele on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    My family keeps kosher in the home, so we can’t do the shell fish, but I like the idea of a fish stew with the other components here. Do you have any suggestions for boosting the “Seafood,” flavor without the clam juice etc…Thanks in advance for your thoughts…Love your stuff!
    Steve

    - Steven on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Steve, You could definitely use fish stock. Hopefully you can find a kosher one, as making it from scratch is kind of a pain :).

      - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
  • I think 4 out of 5 recipes I use every week are off of here! I’m so in love. Making this TONIGHT! Can I substitute clams with mussels? We’re not big on clams.

    - Celeste Goldzal on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • Absolutely, Celeste – any seafood will work in this recipe so feel free to use whatever you like/have on hand. So glad you’re enjoying the recipes!

      - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
      • Another question, you mentioned you can cook the fish in the stew? When would you add them in doing it this way?

        - Celeste Goldzal on January 15, 2017 Reply
        • I’d add it with the clams; just be gentle when stirring as the fish will fall apart easily once it’s cooked. Also, you can omit the additional 3/4 teaspoon salt for the fish if you cook it this way.

          - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
          • 5 stars

            Thanks once again! Made it for my family tonight and everyone loved it. A real hit!

            - Celeste on January 16, 2017
  • What can I use to replace the wine? (I don’t consume alcohol).

    - Iman on January 15, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Iman, I think more clam juice plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice would be a good substitute for the wine in this recipe. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it this way.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2017 Reply
      • I tried this and it was good, but I think the original re pie (with the wine) likely makes this recipe. A substitute left it lacking of that strong flavour/kick. Would cider vinegar, soy sauce, or grape juice work to replace the wine?

        - Iman on February 11, 2017 Reply
        • Hi Iman, Yes, the wine does add depth of flavor and acidity – you might try adding a little lemon juice to taste at the end to brighten it up.

          - Jenn on February 11, 2017 Reply

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