During the first week in March, Mr. S and I were in San Francisco; he was attending GDC while I was a tourist for 5 days. I had never been before and was eager to explore as much as possible and I did! Each day was packed with something new. We stayed in the Mission District (so glad we did) and would walk to the Moscone Center every day. Breakfast was in a different place each morning usually eating at establishments that promoted locally grown food. Some of the memorable ones were Blue Bottle Coffee (the softest poached eggs on toast with avocado), Chow Food Bar (buttermilk pancakes to die for), and Tartine Bakery & Cafe (ham and swiss croissants that melted in your mouth). I would have breakfast with Mr. S and then bid him farewell as he went on to the GDC.
Popular tourist sights and local cuisine are always high on my list of things to do along with brushing up on local history. This brings me to cioppino (chuh-pee-noh) – an Italian American fish stew. While I didn’t have one of San Fran’s signature dishes while there, I did make it when we got home. Thanks to Italian immigrants for this dish; they would bring home whatever was the catch of the day and make into a tomato based stew. It’s easy to make and packed with flavour.
Use this recipe as a guide and change the amounts where you see fit. It’s a forgiving dish so you can’t really mess it up.
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (can use a small onion, chopped)
good splash of olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch or two crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
28 oz. can Italian tomatoes
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup water
1 cup white wine
1 lb. of clams
12 large shrimp, peeled
1 lb. firm white fish cut into bite-size chunks
1 lb. mussels, cleaned
8 to 10 large scallops
1 squid tube, cut into rings
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook fennel until it is soft, roughly 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in oregano, red-pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Add crushed tomatoes and their juice, white wine, water, and clam juice; bring to a boil then reduce heat. Add clams and mussels. Simmer, covered, until shells open. Add fish, squid, and shrimp to pot. Simmer, covered, until fish is opaque and shrimp are pink, around 2 to 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf and any unopened clams. Remove pot from heat and stir in parsley. Serve immediately with a slice of focaccia or sourdough bread.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: I used a can of clams as the food shop didn’t have any fresh on hand. Enjoy!