Recipe courtesy of John Nye

California Coastal Cioppino

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 15 min
  • Prep: 1 hr 5 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Tomato Sauce Base:

2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil

4 anchovy fillets

1 1/2 cups roughly chopped onions

3/4 cup roughly chopped celery, and a few leaves

3/4 cup roughly chopped carrots

12 basil leaves

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Pinch chili flakes

Cheesecloth sachet, filled with 1 rosemary sprig, 1 oregano sprig, 1 thyme sprig, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 1/2 quarts peeled, seeded ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cioppino Base:

2 cups red wine

2 cups white wine

Pinch saffron threads, crushed

3 cups fish stock

6 cups tomato sauce base

Spot Prawns and Seafood

10 cups cioppino base

18 (1-ounce) medallions white sea bass

2 dozen manila clams

2 doze black mussels

6 claws, 6 legs Dungeness crab, cooked

12 spot prawn tails, vein removed

18 tentacles, 3 small tubes calamari, cleaned, tubes cut in 1/2-inch pieces

Main Dish:

Rice bran oil

12 spot prawn heads

Potato starch, for dusting

Pinch kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Spicy Shrimp Rouille:

1 1/2 cups French bread cubed, no crust

1/2 cup cold fish broth

6 livers from shrimp heads, lightly sauteed

1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon togarashi spice (also known as Japanese 7 spice)

1/2 teaspoon chili sauce (recommended: Sriracha)

1/2 teaspoon yuzu juice

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Rustic Crostini:

6 thick slices sourdough bread

1 clove garlic, cut in 1/2

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped parsley leaves

Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cioppino Assembly:

Cioppino Sauce

Cooked Seafood

Rustic Crostini

Pinch chopped Italian parsley leaves

6 lemon halves

Spicy Shrimp Rouille


  1. Tomato Sauce Base:
  2. Heat a large saucepan and add olive oil and anchovies. Stir anchovies into hot oil to dissolve. Add onions, celery and carrots and begin to cook until they begin to brown. Add basil leaves, garlic and chili flakes and sweat to release their aromas. Add sachet and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes until vegetables are tender enough to easily crush with a fork. Remove sachet and pass sauce through a fine food mill. Reserve for Cioppino Base.
  3. Cioppino Base:
  4. Combine wines and saffron. Reduce wine by half. Add fish stock and tomato sauce, bring to a simmer to combine flavors. Check seasoning. Adjust if necessary.
  5. Spot Prawns:
  6. Place Cioppino a large straight-sided pot. Heat to just below a simmer. Add fish, clams, mussels, crab and shrimp tails to pot. Cover and steam/poach briefly to cook and heat through each item. Clams and mussels should be now open; fish and shrimp should turn opaque. Add calamari for the last minute of cooking. Discard any clams or mussels that do not have beautiful plump meats.
  7. Main Dish:
  8. Heat about 6 inches of oil to 365 degrees F. Clean back apron of shrimp head and clean inside tail end of head. Dredge shrimp heads in potato starch lightly and fry 3 minutes until very crisp and golden. Drain briefly, split in 2 and season with salt and pepper. Hold warm for service.
  9. Spicy Shrimp Rouille:
  10. Soak bread cubes in fish broth and place all ingredients except oil in blender. Puree ingredients into a paste. Pour in the oil slowly, while blending, to make a thick fluffy mayonnaise sauce.
  11. Rustic Crostini:
  12. Rub bread with cut garlic clove and brush with melted butter and olive oil. Sprinkle with
  13. parsley, salt and pepper and toast to golden brown in oven or toaster oven.
  14. Cioppino Assembly:
  15. Ladle Cioppino sauce into hot serving dishes. Arrange fish items on each dish from the back of the dish to the front. Lean crostini against 2 pieces of sea bass. Arrange 3 split fried shrimp heads against crostini and face forward and upright. Add 1 mussel shell and mussel meats, and 1 clam shell and clam meats. Add peeled shrimp tails, last piece of fish, calamari and peeled crab legs. Top with chopped parsley, cover and serve. Serve with lemons and Spicy Rouille sauce on side.