San Francisco Cioppino – Classic Cioppino (seafood stew, pronounced chow-peen-o) was originated by the Portuguese and Italian crabbers from San Francisco Bay. It is based on live Dungeness crab but can be made with already cooked crab too. Serve it with fresh warm sourdough bread with sweet butter paired with a cold bottle of Chardonnay, and don’t forget bibs for all. Serves 4-6.

First of all you need to cook and clean your crab.

  • 1 large live Dungeness crab, around 2.5 lb.
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 leek (only the white part) minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons each minced fresh basil, thyme, and oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried each)
  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (to peel a tomato easily, plunge it into boiling water for 10 seconds or so and then plunge into ice water)
  • 1 can (20 oz) tomato puree
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 small clams
  • 1 pound rockfish, ling cod, halibut, or rock shrimp
  • 12 mussels, de-bearded, only if you like mussels
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Sauté, in a large soup kettle, carrot, leek, onions and celery in oil until limp. Add garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, tomatoes, tomato puree, clam juice and wine and simmer 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Scrub clams and mussels well under cold running water with a stiff-bristled brush. Add clams, diced fish or rock shrimp (or both), mussels (if you are using them) and crab to kettle and simmer 15 minutes.

Ladle fish and shellfish along with broth into large bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Dungeness Crab

Cooking: In a large pot over a very hot flame, (those outdoor burners sold through Cabela’s for deepfrying turkeys are fabulous), Add Salt, 1 TBSP/gallon of water, bring to boil, drop in crab, after water has returned to boil, cook for 10 minutes and immediately remove to ice water.











Cleaning: Take the crab after it is cooked, place the crab, top side up, in your left hand (assuming you are right handed). At the rear of the crab, take your thumb and stick it under the edge of the top shell. Rotate forward and lift the shell up, kind of like opening the hood of your car. Discard top shell. Turn the crab over, bottom side up, and you will see down the center of the crab some small shell sections. Put your thumb under that at the rear and lift off, like above. Clean out all the grey and green and spongy stuff (if it looks gross, get rid of it). Rinse.


Charleston Dungeness Crab Crêpe


Dungeness Crab Crepe

Crêpe Filling

• Meat from two 2lb. crabs
• 3 cups sliced mushrooms
• 1 finely chopped small onion
• Juice from ½ lemon
• 3 TBS Unsalted butter
• ¾ cup Dry White Wine
• ½ Bay Leaf
• ½ tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
• ½ tsp. Salt
• 1 tsp. Fresh chopped Tarragon (or ½ tsp. dry)
• 2 tsp. Fresh chopped Parsley
• ½ tsp. English Thyme (or regular Thyme if you don’t have English)
• 1/3 cup heavy cream

Melt butter over low heat in 12″ skillet. Add onions and cook until they are translucent. Add mushrooms, lemon juice, spices and ½ cup of wine. Cook on high until liquids reduce to a thick sauce. Add cream and ¼ cup wine over low heat. When you have a thick sauce add the crab. Cook until the crab is just warm. You should end up with a filling that is moist but not wet.

Crêpe Batter – you can cut this in half

• 1 cup water
• 1 cup milk
• 4 eggs
• ½ tsp. Salt
• 2 cups flour
• ½ cube butter

Put eggs, milk, water and salt into a blender jar. Measure flour and set aside. Melt butter over low heat. If the butter browns it won’t work! Add the flour to the blender and then the melted butter on top. Blend on high for 30 seconds. Some flour will stick the side of the jar. Take a rubber spatula and scrape the side of the jar to loosen the flour and blend on high for 1 minute. The batter should have the consistency of light cream, just thick enough to coat the spatula. If it is too thick, blend in a little water. Refrigerate for 3 hours before using. Blend on high 1 minute before using.


Putting it all together

• 12 ounces grated Swiss cheese (a good one like Tillamook or Jarlsberg)
• 2 scallions, chopped
• 1 package Knorr Hollandaise Sauce
• Fresh chopped parsley
• Crisco

The best way to cook a crêpe is in a crêpe pan. If you don’t have one, a cast iron skillet will work but you will need to use slightly less batter. The amounts above will fill 3 12″ crêpes (1/2 cup batter each) or 4 10″ crêpes (1/3 cup batter each).

You can make the Hollandaise sauce from scratch, but we have been very happy with the package mix from Knorr and it’s a lot easier. Prepare the Hollandaise and keep warm and make sure the crab filling is warm.

You want to have all the ingredients ready and next to the stove then make sure you have the sequence figured out because when you cook the crêpes things move really fast and a lost moment means a burned crêpe.

Season your pan: Take a paper towel and grease the skillet with Crisco. Place on high heat. When the Crisco has melted and just begins to smoke, wipe out grease with paper towel.


You’re ready to boogie!


1. Reduce heat to medium high. Get a fresh paper towel and lightly wipe skillet with Crisco. It should immediately begin to smoke lightly.
2. Pour ½ cup batter in pan.
3. Roll pan so batter evenly coats bottom of pan.
4. Take a metal spatula (I use a long one like short order cooks use) and work around edge of crêpe to free from pan. On most stoves, you will have to move the skillet around over the fire to get the crêpe to cook evenly.
5. As the crêpe cooks, little air bubbles will work through the batter and it will change color. Flip the crêpe with the spatula. Side one should be a golden brown. Side two is done when it has golden brown spots.


Now throw the first one away, it just seasons the pan 😉 If you didn’t get it right don’t worry, there’s plenty of batter. I feed the losers to the chickens, they love ’em.
Now let’s do it for real!

Cook side one as explained above in a freshly greased pan. After you flip the crêpe, spread evenly 1/3 of the cheese over ½ the crêpe. Add 1/3 of the crab filling on top of the cheese. Fold the unfilled half of the crêpe over the filled side so you end up with a half circle shaped crêpe. Immediately flip the crêpe over and cook for about 30 seconds. Take your spatula and slide the crêpe out of the pan onto a dinner plate.

Spoon about 2 Tsp. Hollandaise sauce onto the crêpe and garnish with scallions and parsley.
Serving suggestion: Add a fresh Caesar salad