Monterey Bay Cioppino

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Why This Recipe Works

To create a home recipe inspired by the cioppino served up at Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery in Moss Landing, California, we started by making a tomatoey marinara base that relied on pantry staples and came together quickly. Instead of breaking out the food processor to make a traditional pesto to flavor our stew as Phil does, we simply added the pesto’s key ingredients (olive oil, basil, and garlic) to the mix. Phil’s version is brimming with a wide range of seafood, but we wanted to tighten the roster for our version, so we bypassed clams and calamari, opting instead for easy-to-find shrimp, scallops, sea bass, and mussels. Adding our seafood to the pot in stages and finishing the cooking off the heat ensured that each component was perfectly cooked.



  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup canned tomato puree
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1 ½ pounds skinless sea bass fillets, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • 12 ounces large scallops, tendons removed, cut in half horizontally
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 8 to 12 ounces of shrimp stock
  • 1 (12-inch) baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Lemon wedges

Before You Begin

We recommend buying “dry” scallops, which don’t have chemical additives and taste better than “wet” scallops. Dry scallops will look ivory or pinkish; wet scallops are bright white. If you can’t find fresh dry scallops, you can substitute thawed frozen scallops. If you can’t find sea bass, you can substitute cod, haddock, or halibut fillets.


For The Marinara

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, and salt and cook until onion is softened and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add tomato sauce, tomato puree, basil, sugar, Worcestershire, and cinnamon and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until marinara is slightly thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.

For The Cioppino

  1. Season sea bass, shrimp, and scallops with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  3. Add mussels, basil, sherry, garlic, Worcestershire, saffron, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until mussels start to open, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in clam juice and marinara until combined. Nestle sea bass and scallops into pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until seafood is just turning opaque, about 2 minutes.
  5. Nestle shrimp into pot and return to simmer. Cover and cook until all seafood is opaque, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with baguette slices and lemon wedges.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen

Marinara Sauce