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Homemade Cioppino – Laura Vitale

Homemade Cioppino – Laura Vitale

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine.

Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish all sourced from the Pacific Ocean. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread.

Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa meaning “to chop” or “chopped,” which describes the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day’s catch. Ciuppin is also the name of a classic soup from the region, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew (zuppe di pesce (it)) similar to ciuppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto (it) from Abruzzo, Quatàra di Porto Cesareo (it), and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix (ca) from Catalan-speaking regions of coastal Spain and bouillabaisse from Provence.

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