James Beard

Author and Educator

Cioppino is San Francisco’s answer to the bouillabaisse of Marseille or the Tyrrhenian Sea’s "cacciucco." The word “cioppino” probably derives from “ciuppin,” used in the Genoese dialect to describe the local fish stew, and no doubt arrived on our shores with the first Italian immigrants. The point here is to use whatever local, fresh seafood and shellfish is available. For James Beard, this meant, above all, his favorite Dungeness crab.


  • 1 quart clams or mussels
  • 1 cup red or white wine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 ounces dried mushrooms, soaked in water until soft
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 pounds sea bass, striped bass, or other firm-fleshed fish, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, shelled
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley


In a large stockpot, steam the clams or mussels in one cup red or white wine until they open. Discard any that don’t, and remove the meat from the shells.

Set clams or mussels aside and strain wine broth through a fine cloth or mesh sieve and reserve. Heat olive oil in a large pot, and add onion, garlic, pepper, and mushrooms. Cook 3 minutes, then add tomatoes. Cook the mixture for four minutes. Add the reserved broth, tomato paste, and red wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes, and taste again for seasoning.

Add the sea bass. Cook just until done, then add the clams or mussels, crabmeat, and shrimp. Simmer just until the shrimp are cooked. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with crusty French or Italian bread.


6 to 8 servings