Dungeness Crab Cioppino Recipe


Image Credit / Frances Janisch via Food and Wine 

Cioppino (pronounced chuh-PEE-now) is an absolutely delicious Italian-American seafood dish that originated on the west coast––very near to where Dungeness crabs come from. It is considered a soup, or stew, that was traditionally consumed by Ligurian mariners and port workers in northern Italy in inns and taverns. The name cioppino stems from the Ligurian word, which means “chopped, torn to pieces.” After looking at the photo above, that definition is quite apparent. 

The yummy part about cioppino is that it is made with various types of fish and shellfish and a wealth of vegetables and spices. You can truly make it what you want it to be. There is no absolute right way to make this stew. As a cook, time in the kitchen is time for a bit of flavor and creativity. With that being said, the combination of sweet, delectable Dungeness crab among the other fresh ingredients makes this a hearty and flavorsome dish you can’t turn down. 

Do you need fresh Dungeness crab for this recipe? 

Forget running to a store. Fathom Seafood’s online store is one convenient click away and allows you to purchase live Dungeness crab right away. And no need to wait too long for it to arrive either. You’ll have it within 24 hours of purchase! 

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yields: 10 servings 

Recipe Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves—6 finely chopped, 2 whole
  • 3 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved
  • Four 8-ounce bottles of clam broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 steamed Dungeness crabs, about 2 pounds each (see Note)
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 pounds firm, white-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut, skinned and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 pound sea scallops, halved vertically if large
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Make sure you properly clean your Dungeness crab before you start making the cioppino recipe. After you clean your crab, the bodies in cold water and quarter them so that each piece has a body and leg.

Recipe Instructions

  1. Grab a large pot and heat 1/4 cup of olive oil. While stirring periodically over moderately high heat, add onion, bell peppers, garlic, jalapeños, and bay leaf. Continue stirring for about 10 minutes and wait for everything to begin to brown. 

  2. Add the tomato paste to the mixture and cook while stirring for 1 minute; add in the red wine and continue cooking for an additional minute until it evaporates.

  3. For another 5 minutes, add in chopped tomatoes along with their juices. Bring to a boil after adding in the clam broth, water, salt, and pepper. Simmer over moderate heat for about 20 minutes. Ultimately, you want about 8 cups of broth in the end. 

  4. Process whole garlic and basil leaves until finely chopped. Add in 1/2 cup of olive oil and red pepper and process again until the basil puree is smooth. Season to taste. 

  5. It’s time for the crabs and clams to go into the pot. On high heat, cover and cook while stirring periodically. After about 5 minutes, the clams will begin to open. Carefully transfer the crabs to a large platter.

  6. Add in scallops, shrimp, mussels, and fish, covering them with the broth. Return the crabs to the pot. Stir occasionally for about 8 minutes. 

  7. The goal is to notice the clams and mussels open up and have fully-cooked shrimp, scallops, and fish. 

  8. It’s time to eat! Ladle the cioppino into bowls and use the basil puree to drizzle over each serving. 

This is the perfect dish to pair with some crunchy, buttery garlic bread and a glass of red wine. Find more Dungeness crab recipes at our recipe blog. 

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