Scoma’s Lazyman’s Cioppino
Over Thanksgiving, I went home to the Bay Area to visit the family. One of the things I like to do when I’m home is to get the Lazy Man’s Cioppino at Scoma’s restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf. I remember growing up and going to Scoma’s after the Niners games or anytime we were up in SF and I’d always get the Cioppino. Unfortunately, there had just been an oil spill in the Bay recently and people were saying not to eat crab. Even crab boats were not going out because they were banned from selling anything they caught. Mmm… Oil slick crab. Same as using olive oil, right? If that wasn’t enough to dissuade me, I looked up their menu on the internet and the Cioppino is now $35 a bowl! Ouch! As you can imagine, no Cioppino for me.
The upside to this story was that all this reminded me that a long while back I had found the actual Lazy Man’s Cioppino recipe in a Fisherman’s Wharf Recipe Book. Upon my return to San Diego, my need for Cioppino was so strong that I decided to make it myself. I was surprised to find that the recipe was pretty straightforward and simple!
Lazy Man’s Cioppino
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pinch oregano
1 bay leaf
1 pinch sage
2 cans (No. 2 1/2) solid pack tomatoes
1 T tomato paste
1/4 C water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs. crabmeat, cooked
4 large oysters
8 prawns, shelled and deveined
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add spices and allow to cook 5 more minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 hour. Strain before using.
When ready to serve, add the seafood to the sauce and cook for about 5 minutes. Serve in bowls with plenty of sourdough French bread.
The sauce for this dish may be made any time. It can be stored in the refrigerator for several days and will freeze beautifully.
I didn’t stick completely to the recipe on my first attempt. I changed a few of the seafood ingredients. I didn’t want to have to spend a lot of money on the scallops or crab only to have my first attempt bomb and have it all go to waste. I also didn’t know what No. 2 1/2 solid pack tomatoes were so I used an 18 oz. can of crushed tomatoes and an 18 oz. can of pureed tomatoes. I also didn’t get the straining step. I originally thought it was to take out some of the ingredients like the bay leaf, but the stuff is so thick that nothing strained through except water. I assumed that was the point and the straining process was to get out some of the liquid and thicken the soup/stew. Although it wasn’t in the recipe, I did take out the bay leaf at this point. I was happy with the results. It tasted pretty much like what I’ve had in the restaurant except for the sourdough bread I bought. I have yet to find a really good sourdough in San Diego that compares to what you can get in SF, but that’s for another post.
It was great to have my initial disappointment of not eating at Scoma’s become a discovery of how to make my own Cioppino. Now I don’t have to travel all the way to San Francisco or spend $35 for the meal. I can’t wait to make this again, but this time with fresh seafood from a good seafood store in Point Loma or somewhere. If you try this out, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.