Cioppino is a delicious Ligurian fish stew, and since many emigrants from Liguria settled in San Francisco, some of the best renditions of the dish on this side of the ocean are found in San Francisco. California Italians were great contributors to the American fabric, and I am sure they all enjoyed a good bowl of cioppino. It might be a bit more complicated to eat, and perhaps your guests will balk, but I like my cioppino with crab legs in their shells.
- 1/4 cup extra- virgin olive oil
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 12 ounces monkfish, trimmed and cut into 2- inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 8 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Pour the olive oil into a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Spread the flour on a plate, and dredge monkfish in the flour, tapping off the excess.
Slip the monkfish into oil and brown on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes in all. Remove the monkfish to a plate.
Add the onion and celery to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Push aside the vegetables to make a dry “hot spot” in the pan and add the tomato paste. Let the tomato paste toast for a minute or two, then stir it into the onion and celery. Sprinkle in the peperoncino, let toast another minute, then increase heat to high, pour in the wine, and stir.
Cook until the wine is reduced by half, then add the bell pepper, tomatoes, thyme, and salt.
Slosh out the tomato can with 2 cups water, and add that as well. Bring to a rapid simmer, and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Once the sauce has thickened, return the monkfish to the pot and let cook 2 minutes.
Add the littlenecks, cover the pot, and simmer until the clams just begin to open, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the mussels, cover, and cook until they begin to open, another 2 minutes.
Finally, add the shrimp and crabmeat. Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the parsley, and serve in warm bowls.
Note: Instead of the crabmeat, you can also use six king crab legs, cracked in pieces, but if so add them just before the shrimp.