Fort Point Cioppino Recipe
Latest Posts Mar 01, 2023

SF Style Cioppino Recipe

Our take on the iconic seafood stew

Every San Franciscan has their favorite version of cioppino, SF’s iconic seafood stew. Our recipe takes inspiration from the best cioppinos we’ve had over the years – from homemade versions, to classics cooked at OG spots around the city. 

Cioppino has always been a dish that’s best shared with friends – the story goes that back in the late 1800s, hungry Italian fishermen used to chip in a bit of whatever they’d caught on the Bay that day — crab, clams, shrimp, etc — into a big pot with wine, herbs, and tomatoes and turn it into a hearty seafood stew.

Our recipe, lightly tweaked for home cooking, is what we served at our SF Beer Week Cioppino Dinner Party, and it’s the same cioppino that’s a staple on the menu at our Valencia Street location. Make it at home, or come in and we’ll make it for you. We hope this recipe inspires you to have a Cioppino Dinner Party of your own – no matter where it is.

Fort Point’s Cioppino

Serves 4

 1   Live Dungeness crab (1 ½ to 2 lb)
¼ lb   Extra jumbo blue shrimp, head on with shells
½ lb
  Manila clams, soaked in water & shells scrubbed
½ lb
  Local mussels, beard removed & shells scrubbed
¼ lb
  Halibut filet, cut into 2 inch pieces
¼ lb
  Local squid, cleaned and cut into rings
  Yellow onion, diced, scraps reserved
  Fennel bulb, diced, scraps reserved
4   Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2   Bay leaves
½ cups
  Canned crushed tomatoes
½ cup
  Olive oil
2 sprigs   Fresh oregano leaves, rough chopped
2 tbsp   Fresh basil leaves, rough chopped
1 tsp   Red pepper flakes
1 tsp   Fennel seeds
to taste   Kosher salt
to taste   Ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and season with a handful of kosher salt. Boil crab for 15 minutes, then chill in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. After the crab has cooled, carefully open the head to expose the body and crab tomalley (fat). Working over a bowl fitted with a strainer, gently scrape the tomalley from the shell and body, then press the fatty goodness through the strainer, reserving the liquid (you'll use this later). Discard the solids.

Separate the legs from the body then crack the shells of the legs. Remove any gills from the body and gently rinse under cold water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, then cut the crab body into 4 pieces. Place cooked crab in the fridge until needed.


Remove head, peel and devein shrimp. Place shrimp in the fridge until needed. Reserve the heads and shells for stock.


Place shrimp shells and heads, and the onion and fennel scraps (making sure they’re free of dirt) in a stock pot, then cover with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil then slowly simmer for 30 minutes. Pass the stock through a fine mesh strainer, then reserve until needed. 


In a dutch oven or large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and fennel, season with a pinch of salt and slowly cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic and let cook for a few minutes until soft. Add fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Deglaze with white wine and let reduce by half. Once wine has reduced, add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, crab tomalley and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook at a low simmer and reduce by a quarter. Remove bay leaves.

Now onto cooking the seafood! Bring tomato mixture to a high simmer, add the clams and cook until shells start to open, then add the mussels. Add the halibut pieces and cook until opaque, then the shrimp and cook until the meat turns pink. Add the squid and crab and let simmer for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, season stew with salt and pepper to taste, then add oregano and basil.


Set the table, light some candles, and queue the music. The playlist we made for our Cioppino Dinner Party is always a good option.

Serve Cioppino with toasted sourdough bread drizzled with olive oil, fresh lemon wedges and a cold fizzy Fort Point beer. You can never go wrong with Sfizio, our Italian Style Pilsner


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Sarah Chorey
Sarah Chorey