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Author: Subject: Looking Back - Cacciucco (Cioppino): Make it from Scratch
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[*] posted on 5-27-2015 at 04:38 PM
Looking Back - Cacciucco (Cioppino): Make it from Scratch

Now it's an Italian, Norsk, & Baja Tradition


Some time ago we were visiting old Baja amigos in San Fransisco's North Beach, had a terrific reunion at a old-fashioned Italian restaurant called, Sotto Mare, where we had an excellent 'cioppino'. This feast reminded us of when we made it ourselves at Coyote Bay, Bay of Conception a couple years ago. Wrote about it then..and will again today after another such lunch...because I love it!

C'mon, let's go back a little....

What is it?
Cioppino is a fish stew. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in the dish's place of origin is typically a combination of dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, with toasted garlic bread, either sourdough or baguette. Mostly, it's scrumptuous and I love it.

Generally the seafood is cooked in broth and served in the shell. It may be accompanied by a bib to prevent food stains on clothing, a techique encouraged by certain Co-pilots..and even possibly a damp napkin, or a second bowl for the shells. As a special treat the "lazy man's" cioppino is served with seafood shelled and crab legs cracked...thanks again, Co-pilot.

Cioppino - Baja Style

Well, it so happens that a certain American-Norwegian knows some great Italians and they have come to Baja's oceanfront..bringing their cooking skills with them. And it also happens that this Norsk guy has some fish & assorted seafood in his fridge..(well.. DUH! A Norsk with a fish...big surprise, eh?) It is mandatory then to assume the outcome of such a meeting. Ergo: A seafood dinner will happen. But what?..and how to prepare? (Sadly 'Breaded and fried' appears to have disappeared from my menu...sigh)

I welcome my old friends back to Baja, along with thier children.

Roberto y Daniela say "Ciao, Roger..good to see you again."

The little girls say something that roughly translates as, "Is he the bogeyman?" Cute kids...

Now..this is where the recent discussion on Nomads on 'cioppino' comes into play.

Thinking of that recent thread, I ask my Italian guests if they would like to join me in making some cioppino?

They are happy at the idea of cooking together,"Sure..what is 'cioppino'?"

Wha..? I check their passports again. Yup...Rome, Italy. Odds are.. they're Italians.

I said.."Come on, quit kidding..Cioppino? You know, the delicious Italian seafood soup..tomato/wine broth, lotsa fish, shrimp, scallops, crab, clams, crusty garlic bread, big bibs, lotsa good vino...everybody loves it?"

"We never heard of it, but it sure sounds a lot like 'cacciucco or brodetto' back home in Italy. Let's do it!"

I said.."Caw-chow -what?"

Co-pilot says, "Open the brain a little bit more, tesoro..take a deep breath. Limber up those lips. Now repeat after me.."

"Ca-cciu-cco. Say..Ka-chew-co. Bravo, now you have it! You get a cracker."

INFORMATION NOTE: About here I feel we MUST get the story of cioppino down pat ..the REAL DEAL so to speak.


It was developed in the late 1800s by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

Legend #1.

The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port city of Genoa, meaning "to chop" or "chopped" which described the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the days catch.At least one restaurant in San Francisco, the eponymous Cioppino's, describesan apocryphal story in which the name derived from the heavily Italian-accented cry of the wharf cooks for the fishermen to "chip in" some of their catch to the collective soup pot.

Legend #2.

The origin of both the dish and the name came from the Italian fishermen in the 1800's, when Fisherman's Wharf was still called Meigg's Wharf. Someone would make the rounds of the moored fishing boats, calling out for for contributions to a common, festive stew. One fisherman would toss a nice, fat fish into the bucket, another would drop in a succulent Dungeness crab, another some herbs and vegetables. The cry that prompted each contribution was :Chip In!, Chip In!". But coming from an Italian throat, this American slang had to end in a vowel. And the "in" was, of course "een". So "Chip-een-o" was born.

It's been 100 plus years, but the Italian fishermen are still here, and so is Cioppino.)

NOW..back to the story of how my good Hilo Hattie shirt got so stained:

How to make cioppino-cacciucco-brodetto......Baja-style:

Step 1: Verify that you fullfilled the shopping list: tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, fish, scallops, shrimp, steamers, crusty bread, wine.

Step 2: Open some wine.

Use only fresh fish...

..and fresh shrimp..

Step 3:..always saute lotsa onions and garlic!

Step 4:Take a little wine to the hombres at the patio barbeque.

..who are grilling..and eating.. lotsa peppers...

Step 5: Now back to the kitchen and

.....Cook-cook-cook..for about 3 hours...

Step 9: Dress for dinner & Bring some more treats to the grillguys outside...and the pooch.


..sorry, things got a little fuzzy...

Final step: A very Special thanks to the hostess, Co-Pilot who did all the work and cooking.

..and this to the grillguy:........."Buono notte, Bogeyman!"

CACCIUCCO-CIOPPINO RECIPE (Italian, Norsk, Baja style)

(folks, this is a once-around-the-kitchen type dinner..a great time to use your imagination and create your own special flair. It's hard to screw up cioppino..or even cacciucco :rolleyes:

Here's one recipe that's worked for us:

1/2 cup olive oil or 1/2 lb. butter
2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large cans (1 lb. 12 oz. ea.) tomatoes
(well, you can blanch and peel fresh ones)
2 cans (14.5 oz. ea.) chicken broth
(or equivalent of your own fish or chicken stock)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped and lightly packed
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. dry basil (or chopped fresh to taste)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 cup water (a bit more/less depending on the wine)
1 to 2 cups dry white wine (use the good stuff)
2 live dungeness crabs if available..otherwise improvise (about 4 lbs. total)
(note that you should get them cleaned and cracked)
(or substitute cooked whole, cleaned and cracked crab)
1 1/2 lbs. shrimp, deveined (optionally peeled)
1 1/2 lbs. scallops
(add rock fish or cod with less shrimp/scallops)
Optional: 1/2 lb. clams in shells

Melt the butter in a 6 to 8 quart pot over medium heat.
Add onions, garlic and parsley; cook, stirring, until
onions are softened. Add tomatoes, mashing them, and
their liquid. Add the broth/stock, bay leaf, other
seasonings, water and wine. Bring to a boil and reduce
heat; cover and simmer about 30 minutes.

If using live crab, add it to simmering sauce and cook,
covered, for 10 minutes.

Add shrimp, scallops, fish (if adding fish), cooked
crab (if using it instead of live crab). If including
clams, place them on top of stew hinge side down, if
possible (depends on the level of liquid). Return stew
to simmering and continue cooking, covered, for 5 to 10
minutes until scallops are opaque and clams have
opened. Discard any clams that don't open.
Serves 8 to 12 Italians..or 1 Norsk with a doggie bag.

Note from Co-Pilot: To be truly authentic, the crab and shrimp should be cooked in the shells. This makes for messy
eating though, and you should have a large bowl or individual bowls for the shells. An 'abundant' supply of napkins is also a must if guests eat like Pompano.

[Edited on 5-29-2015 by Pompano]

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[*] posted on 5-27-2015 at 07:00 PM


you crack me up!

Please stay away from the breaded and deep fried dishes, I love to continue reading your great life's wisdom stories.

As we say back home: talk stories.....

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[*] posted on 5-27-2015 at 07:05 PM


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[*] posted on 5-28-2015 at 01:10 PM

I like the copilots dinner outfit:bounce:. What was this thread about? Oh yea food of some kind.

[Edited on 5-28-2015 by chippy]
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