This all started when I was watching an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, where Guy Fieri went to San Diego to visit a local spot called Blue Water. While the grilled fish sandwiches and fish tacos looked appealing, it wasn’t until they introduced their variation of what’s called Cioppino that I was drooling.
Cioppino (pronounced “che-pee-no”) is an Italian fish stew developed in the late 1800s by Italian fishermen who settled in San Francisco. Long in Europe though has there been traditions of small spots up and down the Mediterranean coast where fisherman can bring their catch of the day or even the small fishes they caught that aren’t much for a fillet, but great for soups and stews.
Apparently cioppino is a popular dish in the west coast of the United States, with seafood restaurants all over California sporting their own variations. What I liked about Blue Water’s version is that it uses more meaty fillets of fish as opposed to just shell fish.
So I watched the clip from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives several times as well as researched several recipes for cioppino, and thus bring you this beautiful take on the seafood feast:
Blue Water-Inspired Cioppino
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large fennel bulb, sliced
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 zucchinis, chopped
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 1/4 cup of tomato paste
- 1 (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 tsp of black pepper
- 1 tsp of dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp of salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups of fish stock
- 1 cup of claim juice
- 1 1/2 cups of dry white wine
- 1 pound of salmon, cubed
- 1 pound of mahi-mahi, cubed
- 1 pound of ahi tuna, cubed
- 1 pound of large scallops
- 1 pound of shrimp
- In a large pot, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook just for a few minutes.
- Add fennel, celery, carrots, zucchini, leeks, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, black pepper, red pepper, Worcestershire, salt, bay leaf, fish stock, clam juice, and white wine.
- Stir and bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables get soft.
- Add all seafood and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to let fish overcook.
Keep an eye out for how much liquid is generated. Sometimes the fish will let loose a lot more water as it cooks. If you like things more soupy, then add more broth. If you like things more saucy, then add less broth.
If things get too liquid on you, then slowly add a cup of water with cornstarch mixed in and stir until the cioppino thickens. Best practice is if you add three cups of broth, then add the last one if you need it.
You can really use any seafood that you like. The selections I used are my personal favorites. You can substitute fish for shellfish or whatever you like.
If you can’t find seafood stock in your grocery store, then substitute vegetable stock or even chicken stock. The claim juice will make it flavored to fish.
My father also suggested substituting powdered chicken stock for the salt.
Serve on top of rice or pasta or even alone. One colleague even suggested baking cornbread and placing a thick slice on a plate then putting the cioppino on top.