California Cioppino

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  • 2 freshly cooked whole crabs, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 pounds each
  • 24 clams, well scrubbed
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 pounds fresh white fish such as sea bass, rock cod, halibut or ling cod, cut into large pieces
  • 3/4 pound scallops
  • 3/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • Chopped fresh parsley


  1. Remove the legs and claws from the crab and break the body in half, reserving as much of the soft, mustard-colored center (crab butter) as possible. Set crab pieces aside and force the crab butter through a sieve into a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place the clams in a pan, add 1 cup of wine, and steam, covered, over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until clams open. Remove clams, discarding any that do not open. Strain the stock through cheesecloth and reserve.
  3. In an 8-quart heatproof casserole or a kettle, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, remaining 2 cups of wine, pepper, herbs and clam stock. Partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the fish, scallops, shrimp, crab and crab butter. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes or until all seafood is cooked. Do not stir. Add the clams and heat for a scant 1 minute.
  5. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately from the cooking pot.

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