Fisherman's Stew (Smoked Cioppino)

Fisherman's Stew (Smoked Cioppino)

Our Cioppino Recipe Will Net Many Smiles...

Cioppino is a rustic seafood stew with origins in the Liguria region of Italy, and variations of cioppino are sometimes called brodetto or brudet in historically Italian regions of coastal Croatia. It is a traditional fisherman’s stew made from the catch of the day, generally with smaller species of net fish that don’t command as much money at market.

Old cioppino recipes often simply call for "mixed fish". Conveniently, fish markets in European coastal cities often have a cheap mixed fish bin for just such recipes. There you might find small bream, dory and mullets upon which to build a rich seafood broth.

Any fisherman's stew recipe you encounter should really only be considered a guide. There are as many recipes as there are Italian fishermen, and what goes into the pot depends on what was in the net. You can certainly add clams, mussels, squid, or shrimp, but you should add them in such a way that respects their appropriate cooking times. Textural integrity isn't mandatory, but we think it makes a better bowl of cioppino.

Rather than force you to scroll endlessly through a dissertation on cioppino and all our vacation memories of it, we’ll get right to the smoked cioppino recipe. Through the magic of canning, it does not rely on having an Italian fisherman in the family. It’s best to prepare this easy, lusty fish stew in a large, wide saucepan.

Fisherman's Stew (Smoked Cioppino)

Serves 2-4


1 can Wildfish Smoked Octopus, sliced or large diced, juices reserved
1 can Wildfish Smoked Geoduck, sliced or large diced, juices reserved
1 15 oz. canned mackerel, bones and skin removed (or not), juices reserved
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
12 oz canned diced tomato
32 oz. tomato juice
2 tbsp dried Italian herbs (parsley, rosemary, basil, etc)
3-4 oz olive oil
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, rough chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat the olive oil in the saucepan over medium high flame. Saute the onion and green pepper until they begin to become tender, then add the dried herbs and garlic.
  • Add all the fish and saute until the octopus begins to brown just a bit. Pour in the can juices and wine, reduce the liquid by half, then add diced tomato, tomato juice and half of the fresh parsley.
  • Bring the mixture to a gentle bubble, then reduce flame to low and simmer for 15 minutes or more, allowing the broth to reduce
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice. You may thicken the broth with tomato paste, or thin it out with fish stock or water. Or more wine. You don’t want it too thick, because you will then...
  • ...serve the cioppino in bowls with obscenely thick slices of hot, crusty bread right from the oven. You could also ladle it over a warm wedge of polenta in the bowl if you’re off the gluten. Garnish with the remainder of the fresh Italian parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.


    Stephen Gross

    Overall, this recipe worked out pretty well. The only thing to keep in mind is that the broth ends up pretty acidic because of all the tomatoes. You can counteract that with sugar and/or grated Parmesan.

    All comments are moderated before being published.