One of America’s Favorites – Cioppino

January 4, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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Cioppino

Cioppino, Italian: from Ligurian: cioppin is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is an Italian-American dish and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine.

Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish, all sourced from salt-water ocean, in this case the Pacific. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce.

The dish can be served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread. The bread acts as a starch, similar to a pasta, and is dipped into the sauce.

Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s by Italian immigrants who fished off Meiggs Wharf and lived in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. When a fisherman came back empty handed, they would walk around with a pot to the other fishermen asking them to chip in whatever they could. What ever ended up in the pot became their Cioppino. The fishermen that chipped in expected the same treatment if they came back empty handed in the future. It later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from cioppin (also spelled ciopin) which is the name of a classic soup from the Italian region Liguria, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew similar to cioppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto di pesce from Abruzzo and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix from Catalan-speaking regions and bouillabaisse from Provence.

Cioppino with bread

The earliest printed description of cioppino is from a 1901 recipe in The San Francisco Call, though the stew is called “chespini”. “Cioppino” first appears in 1906 in The Refugee’s Cookbook, a fundraising effort to benefit San Franciscans displaced by the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Generally the seafood is cooked in broth and served in the shell, including the crab, which is often served halved or quartered. It therefore requires special utensils, typically a crab fork and cracker. Depending on the restaurant, it may be accompanied by a bib to prevent food stains on clothing, a damp napkin and a second bowl for the shells. A variation, commonly called “lazy man’s cioppino”, is served with shells pre-cracked or removed.

One of America’s Favorites – Crab Louie

October 10, 2016 at 5:30 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Crab Louie salad, also known as Crab Louis Salad or the King of Salads, is a type of salad featuring crab meat. The recipe dates back to the early 1900s and originates on the West Coast of America.

 

 

crab-louie-salad-showing-main-ingredients
The exact origins of the dish are uncertain, but it is known that Crab Louie was being served in San Francisco, at Solari’s, as early as 1914. A recipe for Crab Louie exists from this date in a publication entitled Bohemian San Francisco by Clarence E. Edwords, and for a similar “Crabmeat a la Louise” salad in the 1910 edition of a cookbook by Victor Hirtzler, head chef of the city’s St. Francis Hotel. Another early recipe is found in the The Neighborhood Cook Book, compiled by the Portland Council of Jewish Women in 1912. San Francisco’s Bergez-Frank’s Old Poodle Dog restaurant menu included “Crab Leg à la Louis (special)” in 1908, named for the chef Louis Coutard who died in May 1908.

By some accounts it was created by entrepreneur Louis Davenport, founder of the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington. Davenport spent his early years in San Francisco before moving to Spokane Falls. He would use crab imported from Seattle to be offered in his hotel. His recipe pre-dates 1914 and can be found in hotel historical menus. The popularity of Crab Louie has diminished since its heyday in the early to mid-1900s, but it can still be found on the menu of some hotels and restaurants on the West Coast, including the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and the Davenport Hotel.

 
The main ingredient for Crab Louie, as the name suggests, is crab meat. The preferred crab is Dungeness Crab, but other crab meat can be substituted, including cheaper imitation crab meat. Although variations of the recipe exist, an essential ingredient is a creamy dressing such as Louis dressing, Thousand Island dressing or Green goddess dressing. This dressing is either served on the side or mixed with the other ingredients, depending on which recipe is used.

A typical Crab Louie salad consists of:

* Crab meat,
* Hard boiled eggs,
* Tomato,
* Asparagus,
* served on a bed of Iceberg lettuce
* with a Louie dressing based on mayonnaise and chili sauce on the side.
Other ingredients such as olives and green onions have also been listed as ingredients in some recipes.

 

Seafood of the Week – Crab

September 24, 2013 at 7:43 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Liocarcinus vernalis

Liocarcinus vernalis

Crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short projecting “tail” (abdomen), usually entirely hidden under the thorax. They live in all the world’s oceans, in fresh water, and on land, are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton and have a single pair of claws. Many other animals with similar names – such as hermit crabs, king crabs, porcelain crabs, horseshoe crabs and crab lice – are not true crabs.

 

 

Crabs are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton, composed primarily of calcium carbonate, and armed with a single pair of chelae (claws). Crabs are found in all of the world’s oceans, while many crabs live in fresh water and on land, particularly in tropical regions. Crabs vary in size from the pea crab, a few millimetres wide, to the Japanese spider crab, with a leg span of up to 4 metres (13 ft).
About 850 species of crab are freshwater, terrestrial or semi-terrestrial species; they are found throughout the world’s tropical and semi-tropical regions. They were previously thought to be a monophyletic group, but are now believed to represent at least two distinct lineages, one in the Old World and one in the New World.
The earliest unambiguous crab fossils date from the Jurassic, although Carboniferous Imocaris, known only from its carapace, may be a primitive crab. The radiation of crabs in the Cretaceous and afterward may be linked either to the break-up of Gondwana or to the concurrent radiation of bony fish, crabs’ main predators.

 

 

Fishermen sorting velvet crabs at Fionnphort, Scotland

Fishermen sorting velvet crabs at Fionnphort, Scotland

Crabs make up 20% of all marine crustaceans caught, farmed, and consumed worldwide, amounting to 1½ million tonnes annually. One species, Portunus trituberculatus, accounts for one fifth of that total. Other commercially important taxa include Portunus pelagicus, several species in the genus Chionoecetes, the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), Charybdis spp., Cancer pagurus, the Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) and Scylla serrata, each of which yields more than 20,000 tonnes annually.
In some species, crab meat is harvested by manually twisting and pulling off one or both claws and returning the live crab to the water in the belief the crab will survive and regenerate the claws thereby making it a sustainable industry.

 

 

Crabs are prepared and eaten as a dish in several different ways all over the world. Some species are eaten whole, including the shell, such as soft-shell crab; with other species just the claws and/or legs are eaten. The latter is particularly common for larger crabs, such as the snow crab. Mostly in East Asian cultures, the roe of the female crab is also eaten, which usually appears orange or yellow in colour in fertile crabs.
The biggest importers, and therefore countries where eating crab is immensely popular, are Japan, France, Spain, Hong Kong, the US, Canada and Portugal.
In some regions spices improve the culinary experience. In Southeast Asia and Indosphere, masala crab and chilli crab are examples of heavily spiced dishes. In the Chesapeake Bay region, blue crab is often eaten with Old Bay Seasoning. Alaskan king crab or snow crab legs are usually simply boiled and served with garlic butter.
For the British dish Cromer crab, the crab meat is extracted and placed inside the hard shell. One American way to prepare crab meat is by extracting it and adding a flour mix, creating a crab cake.
Crabs are also used in bisque, a global dish of French origin.

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