Cioppino Latino (San Fran Seafood Stew, Caribbean-style)

12 Oct

This Cioppino recipe includes an element of redemption.

Ají dulce…home-grown on Long Island!

Adriana — my dear friend from way back when in Puerto Rico, and now another single mom by choice and an essential part of my New York life,  has made numerous appearances on Hot, Cheap & Easy. But even more of our fantastic meals together have never made it to these pages. We like to blame it on the kids. It’s one of the things children are good for.


It’s not as though we don’t try. We start out dutifully recording the ingredients; me glaring across the counter at Adriana waving the appropriate measuring implements at her, grabbing the bloody and limp plastic wrap from the butcher as she is trying to throw it out so I can write down the exact weight of the meat, and giving her the evil eye every time she starts to improvise before I have a chance to count the peppercorns or the coriander seeds, or, the grains of salt, she would say.

Then, somewhere along the way, between the distractions of our children needing: (Select All That Apply) food, water, a different show on T.V., a pencil sharpened or mediation, and our needing to open the second bottle of wine, we sort of forget to note what time  we put the roast in, or how long we cooked the vegetables, or how many minutes on each side…we are both good cooks, but it is a different sort of discipline to write everything down as you do it.

Seafood is so gorgeous

I am used to measuring and timing now, and in fact quite like the discipline it imposes and my ability to recreate pretty much the same dish each time if I so choose, thanks to careful measuring and annotation.

But it kinda drives Adriana crazy, like a continuation of work when we are supposed to be having fun. Like laying a Type A nerve-jangle on a Type B chill vibe. Like trying to tell Picasso to color in the lines. A pain in the ass at best, and counterproductive at worst.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Once I called her out on it in public — the fact that she and I could only rarely keep it together to get a whole recipe down — and told the world that our other mutual friend, Kendra, and I managed (see Grilled Lamb Chops), well, the challenge was on, the gauntlet was thrown, and I’ll show you who can write a recipe…….

Cioppino Latino…sí, sí, sí

So, Cioppino — a seafood dish invented by Italian-Americans in San Francisco – was Adriana’s idea. The fact that I finally have home-grown ají dulce (sweet little cooking peppers from Puerto Rico) and recao (sawtooth culantro) made us decide to put a criollo spin on it.

The results were outstanding, both that evening and for lunch the next day, and, lo and behold…here is the recipe…Take that, Kendra!

Tips on growing ají dulce in the Northeast

Less vibrant color, but a deeper flavor the next day…with a bit of the fizzy stuff!



3/4 lb jumbo shrimp, unpeeled (you will peel them and use the peels for the broth, then set aside the shrimp for later)

3 cups water

1/4 bulb fennel roughly chopped

Half onion peeled

1/2 cup packed parsley

Place all ingredients, including peels from the shrimp, in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes. Strain and reserve.


6 large cloves garlic

1 cup mixed onions and shallots, diced

1 cup mixed cooking peppers:  green, cubanelle, poblano, aji dulce, red…diced to 1/4 inch

6 leaves recao (sawtooth coriander)

Handful cherry tomatoes roughly chopped


1 tbs tomato paste

1 tsp oregano (dry)

1 bay leaf

15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cup red wine

2oz chorizo, diced


Clam juice (enough to supplement the fish broth as needed. You will need a total of 1 ¼ Cup broth)

10 freshly ground pepper corns

about ¼ – ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes


1/2 lb sea scallops

1/2 lb red snapper filet, skin on, 1″ slices

18 little neck clams, scrubbed

(plus the ¾ lb. peeled shrimp you set aside when you made the fish broth)


 2 tbs olive oil and garlic, onions/shallots, peppers, recao, and cherry tomatoes into skillet to soften.

 Start at high, stir to coat and reduce to medium. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add oregano, 1 bay leaf, diced tomatoes.

 Add red wine and allow to boil until reduced by half. Add chorizo

 Add fish broth (adding clam juice to the homemade fish broth to complete 1 ¼ Cups if necessary), pepper corns and pepper flakes.

 Add clams, cook five minutes covered. Then add all other ingredients cook until they lose their translucence. An additional 7 minutes.

 Serve with crusty bread!

You may also like:

 Serenata (salt cod and root vegetables)

Mussels Vinaigrette Elegant Spanish seafood finger food

Shrimp in Seconds, for tapas, snacks, or salads


8 Responses to “Cioppino Latino (San Fran Seafood Stew, Caribbean-style)”

  1. Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy January 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Reblogged this on Hot, Cheap & Easy and commented:

    NOTE TO READERS: In honor of San Francisco making the Super Bowl, I am reblogging this cioppino recipe. That does NOT make me a 49ers fan. Just someone who likes good food. I need to learn to make crab cakes quick, before I catch hell from my East Coast besties…..

  2. Kendra Loomis October 13, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Awesome recipe! It is different every time and can easily be adapted to what you have on hand. Began with a recipe that doesn’t look much like the one above and have made it various times, with different seafood ingredients, no fennel, no shallots, no recao (I prefer cilantro), no shrimp peels in the stock, chicken broth, white wine, different sausage, no peppercorns, different fish and/or vastly different shellfish and the list goes on. What is important is to try the recipe out and then modify it with what you have on hand. Once you get the feel for this, it is an excellent main to serve as a soup or over brown/white rice or even pasta. Complete meal and full of flavor!

  3. Mad Dog October 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Wow that sounds fantastic – I bet it tasted amazing 🙂

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy October 13, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      We enjoyed the …. out of it!

  4. albertocook October 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    I love this
    I I would like a dish…. Now….Please!!!!

  5. sybaritica October 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Wow … I like your take on this classic 🙂

  6. Conor Bofin October 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    You know how to look after yourself! Shrimp filled soup and champagne. I am impressed.

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy October 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

      More like Adriana knows how to take of herself, and I glom on every once in a while!!!

Talk foodie to me, baby...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: