As early and as far back as I can remember in my meteoric career as a chef, it was my first
introduction to Cioppino and all the flavors that I was introduced to in one bite that made me fall in
I was a young “cook” working in the kitchen of the famed Marks Place North Miami, fl.
Chef Mark was a genius at sauce making and his repertoire was indeed a very lengthy one. He was
a master at bringing the flavors of the Medditterrean together and I was amazed at this dish the
first day it made it on his menu. I could distinctly remember an overload of flavors exploding in my
mouth with each bite I took. The flavors ran deep and I remember that there were so many layers to
the sauce which made up this wonderful stew.
The actual history behind Cioppino is “a fish stew originating in San Francisco. It is
considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of
Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in the dish’s place of
origin is typically a combination of dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish.
The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread”
Like its close sister Bouillabaisse, both dishes are “seafood stews” which combine the fresh
catch of the day in a tomato based stew. However, it is the process in which the sauce is made that
separates the two dishes. Making the broth is very important as it is the foundation to this dish and
the key component to bringing this dish together.
I remember we would use these amazing tomatoes from a local farmer named “Fayke”,
his tomatoes were so good and so sweet, it took the dish to another level. Slowly cooked in some
amazing olive oil we made the stew very slowly combining the key ingredients. I also had the
luxury of using the best seafood from Hanson’s Seafood. Jim Hanson was a childhood friend and
he owned a small fleet of fishing boats which provided us with the day’s freshest seafood. I mean
this was fresh out of the ocean. We would always use whatever Jim would bring us based on the
temperature and conditions of the Florida region. The mussels were so plump and juicy and the
baby conch were just enough to add a level of brininess to the stew. I would also love to garnish my
Cioppino with Sea Beans, they were like baby seaweed herbs that would add saltiness to the dish
and also great texture…
In conclusion, what really makes a good Cioppino are all the components of the days catch
and some amazing sauce. What one should remember is that when cooking Cioppino, you should
always use the best ingredients possible, because when you use exclusive ingredients and take your
time cooking with proper technique, the Cioppino will always be stellar.