Copyright Thomas Saaristo  All Rights Reserved
San Francisco's Italian immigrants are credited with creating the hearty and spicy fish
stew redolent with tomatoes and seafood known as Cioppino (Say "chuh-PEA-noh")


For the stew:
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon House salt
Black peppercorns in a pepper mill
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
32 ounce can whole plum tomatoes, drained (reserve juices) chopped
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken stock

For the fish:
One 1 pound king crab leg, thawed if frozen
18 small hard-shelled clams, such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 pound skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound 16 to 20, shelled and de veined shrimp
3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

For the garnish:
Shredded fresh basil leaves and small whole leaves

For the accompaniment
Sourdough bread or Focaccia

Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in
oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened,
about 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add
wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their
juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and
freshly ground black pepper.

While stew is simmering, hack crab leg through shell into 2 to 3 inch pieces with a large
heavy knife. Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just
open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened
clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10
minutes). Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew,
then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf,
then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil

Serve Cioppino immediately, garnishing with shredded and whole baby leaves basil
accompanied by hearty slices of bread

Make ahead tip:
The stew, without the seafood, can be made 1 day ahead. Cool to room temperature,
cover and refrigerate

On the day of service, bring the stew to a simmer before adding the seafood