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The History of Cioppino

Its Origin
Though the word Ciopinno and the dish that is popular in the US definitely was popularized near in the San Franciso area of California, The roots of the dish and name are from Italy. Records of when this dish appeared vary from the Gold Rush days to 1930 says food historian Jean Anderson.

The Italian flair of this tomato based seafood stew using the daily catch comes from the fisherman from Genoa that immigranted to the US and settled in the Bay area of California. A fisherman's stew most likely originated ON the boat because in pre 20th century fishing boats they didn't have refrigeration , so they were limited to some canned foods( like tomatoes),vegetables, bread, wine and the catch of the day to make their dinner.

Origin of the Word Cioppino
The name comes either from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port city of Genoa,meaning "to chop" or "chopped" which described the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the days catch, but also some say it can be a corruption
of the word" il ciuppin" which means ..little soup.

Recipes and More Facts about Cioppino

More Facts about Cioppino

Urban Legend of the origin of the name Cioppino

Legend has it that rounds were made to the boats that came in for the day asking for any seafood to "CHIP IN " to the pot, add an Italian twist and hence the name;
Ciopinno (chip-EEN-o ) .
It would be wonderful if this were true but the seafood stew is popular in Italy and called Cioppin or Cioppio, which is a Geonovesse version of the seafood stew cioppin

These are some notes provided by the Food History Timeline

Food historians generally agree cioppino originated in California (most often cited San Francisco Bay area). The group of Italians credited for the recipe immigrated from Northern Italy, specifically Genoa. The fish? Depended upon the catch of the day. In the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay, [Dungeness] crabs were plentiful and often included. Presumably, in Genoa this stew was made in the same fashion, with the local catch of the day.

"The only thing definate about cioppino is that no one knows for sure when it originated. In researching the recipe, I found a wide range of dates--from Gold Rush Days to the 1930s. Most food historians and cookbook authors don't even try to fix the recipe in time, although all point to San Francisco as the place of origin. It's true, certainly, that cioppino wasn't well known beyond the Bay area (or at least outside California) until after World War II. John Thorne...describes in the September/October 1996 issue of his newsletter, Simple Cooking , how he came upon a vintage (1921) cookbook that discusses cioppino in detail. That book, Fish Cookery , by Evelyn Spencer of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and John N. Cobb, director of the College of Fisheries at the University of Washington, offers a recipe for cioppino that had appeared three years earlier by H.B. Nidever in California Fish and Game. Thorne believes that it may be one of the first, if not the first, ever published. He also points to...[a]... passage in Nidever's article, which suggests that cioppino originated in the fishing grounds off the coast of California, not San Francisco...Yet according to Coleman Andrews...there is a classic Genoese fisherman's soup called il ciuppin. Its "simply a corruption of the Genoise word suppin, meaning little soup'....
--- The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century , Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 72-3)

"Cioppino. A fish stew cooked with tomatoes, wine, and spices, and associated at least since the 1930s with San Francisco, where it is still a specialty in many restaurants (1935). The word is Italian, from a Genoese dialect, ciuppin, for a fish stew, and the dish seems to have originated with the Italian immigrants of San Francisco, who often used the crabmeat available in the city's markets."
--- Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink , John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p.85)

"The city's [San Francisco] third culinary specialty is an oceanic variation called cioppino, a fisherman's stew with ancestral links to French Mediterranean bouillabaisse and Italian Ligurian cacciusso. Here, though, the spicy dish has evolved into something as San Franciscan as rollercoaster hills, cable cars, and cool fog billowing through the Golden Gate. Specific recipes vary, from restaurant to restaurant, chef to chef. Nevertheless, an aromatic bowl of classic San Franciscan cioppino basically blends Dungeness crab, clams, and morsels of rockfish with shrimp or prawns, tidbits of squid, tomatoes, garlic, a "base sauce," and a splash of red wine."
---"TASTE OF AMERICA," By: Bross, Tom, TravelAmerica , May/Jun99, Vol. 14, Issue 6 (p. 10)

"Bernsteins, until recently a Powell Street landmark, opened its doors for the first time soon after the [1906] earthquake. From its inception the restaurant kept cioppino, the famous San Francisco fish stew, on the menu. Early in this century, more than one hundred and nine varieties of fish were taken from San Francisco Bay and sold commercially by the fishermen who hailed mainly from Genoa...A great treat rarely savored today is cioppino cooked on the small boats while at sea, with the catch prepared immediately after having been scooped from the cold waters. In that more leisurely era, this was a feast that was regularly enjoyed. Cioppino remains on the menus of most of the city's fine fish restaurants, and its variety of ingredients is infinite."
--- Sumptuous Dining in Gaslight San Francisco: 1875-1915 , Frances de Talavera Berger and John Parke Custis [Doubleday:Garden City] 1985 (p. 126)

"Cioppino. This is one of California's most famous dishes, and one that we can claim is ours, all ours. It is a versatile dish, as it was invented by fishermen who made it with whatever the ocean was inclined to yield, so of course there are dozens of ideas on how it should be done. Exponents of the various schools of cookery get quite fussed--and fussy--about how to make cioppino. Red or white wine, or sherry? Shrimp and crab, clams, or just a mixture of fish? The best way is as you like it. This recipe is for a combination of fish, but it's basic enough to be used with lobster alone, or with crab, or with practically anything that comes from the sea.



The basics of a Ciopinno is a tomato sauce that has garlic
onions and red or white wine, and of course fresh fish and

One of the differences with this stew is that you don't
make a sauce and then put in the seafood and cook it.
You make your sauce first and then layer the seafood
in a seperate pot, pour the sauce over the seafood,
bring it to a simmer and cook the fish and then serve it
in the pot.

Tarantino's Cioppino Recipe

Tarantino's restaurant has been a hot spot
at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco in an
old buliding that was a meeting place for fisherman.

Mario Batali's version of Cioppin
Mario is an expert on Italian cooking and very
knowledgeable about the history.
Here is a very nice version of a Calabrese style
Cioppin that serves the stew over a piece of grilled bread.

Fulton Fish Market Cioppino from Throwdown by Bobby Flay

Here is a CIoppino that is not traditional but one that
got high marks at a throw down with


Phil's Fish Market Cioppino


Owner, Phil DiGirolamo takes you inside his fish market and shows how he makes his famous cioppino.

Another kind of fish Stew ..

The History of Clam Chowder



Here is a book I recommend


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Helen Brown's West coast cook book  





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