Cioppino great way to enjoy rockfish, crab
One of the most delicious ways to enjoy Oregon Coast rockfish and crab is in a bowl of cioppino, a seafood stew with a rich history on the Pacific coastline.
Cioppino originated with the Italian immigrants in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1800s. From its humble beginnings, the tomato- and wine-based seafood stew is now one of the most popular dishes at restaurants on Fishermen’s Warf and throughout the West Coast. Traditional cioppino takes hours to prepare, first by making fish stock, and then simmering with Italian seasonings, wine, tomatoes and a variety of seafood.
Capt. Andy of Brookings Fishing Charters uses a simple yet delicious recipe for cioppino that is great all year, from stormy winter days to warm summer evenings. It can be made with fresh or frozen seafood and shellfish and utilizes pieces of fish simmered in chicken broth and wine instead of fish stock.
Originally, cioppino was made with the catch of the day by San Francisco fishermen. When fishermen come back without catching anything, they would walk the docks with a pot, asking fellow fishers to donate whatever they could spare. A rockfish here, a few clams there, perhaps a crab or mussel. Fishermen who chipped in part of their catch knew they could count on fish in return if they came back with empty nets or lines. As the Italian immigrants perfected the seafood stew, they began selling it at restaurants in San Francisco, and then beyond, eventually making it a staple at seafood and Italian eateries on the West Coast.
A simple and tasty recipe for cioppino uses cut up fish fillets, canned clams, shrimp, chicken broth, onions, parsley, garlic, white wine, canned tomatoes and, if available, crab and other seafood.
1-2 onions, chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
1 cube butter
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) stewed or diced tomatoes
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) chicken broth
1-2 cups white or red wine
1 cup water
2-3 tablespoons Italian seasoning (dried oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram)
Salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste
1-2 pounds rockfish or cod, cut into small pieces
1-2 pounds shrimp (cocktail and/or large peeled and deveined shrimp)
1-2 cans (6.5 ounces each) chopped or diced clams
Crab meat or cooked and cleaned crab halves
Cook chopped onions, garlic and parsley in a large pot over medium heat with melted butter. Stir frequently, cooking until onions are soft.
Add canned tomatoes, chicken broth, Italian seasonings, wine and water. Bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste.
Add 1 pound of chopped fish fillets (half of the fish to be used in the stew) and cans of clams with juice. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours. As the fish simmers, it will flake into smaller pieces, adding flavor to the stew.
Just before serving, adding shrimp meat and crab legs and/or crab meat. Also add the remaining rockfish pieces. Cook over medium low heat until the rockfish is done, usually about five minutes. If desired, add more salt, pepper, Italian seasonings and garlic salt to taste.
Serve with warm bread.
Many cioppino recipes call for whole, raw clams and mussels, and scallops, but these can be difficult to find year round, especially away from the coast, so Capt. Andy uses the canned clams instead, but whole shellfish, if available, can be added and cooked. Warm Italian bread goes well with cioppino, especially when dipped into the stew. The stew also can be served over cooked rice.
To catch a limit of rockfish to make cioppino, fish and chips or rockfish chowder, visit www.brookingsfishing.com for information on ocean charters out of Brookings, Oregon.