The cioppino is an outstanding tomato-based stew, redolent with seafood.
The cioppino at Eve’s Waterfront tells a fishy story.
Brimming with a virtual aquarium full of fish—including some still in their shells—and served as simmering-hot and richly tomato-red as love itself, cioppino is right up there with the world’s classic seafood stews.
But while it shares the salty limelight with such venerable global glories as gumbo, bouillabaisse, Brazilian moqueca, and Moroccan tagine bi’l-hut, cioppino is no more foreign than its fellow San Franciscan inventions, fortune cookies and Irish coffee.
Nostalgic for a Genoese soup known as ciuppin, 19th-century immigrant fishermen created this nautical grab-bag of a recipe while out at sea, boiling their latest catch—which typically included crab, clams, mussels, shrimp, snapper, and/or halibut. Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants popularized the dish by adding herbs, garlic, and lots of wine.
“The reason I put cioppino on our menu is that we are located on the water,” explained Brandon Peacock, executive chef at Eve’s Waterfront in Jack London Square.
In the space long occupied by the Rusty Scupper and avidly true to its name, Eve’s boasts indoor and outdoor tables nearly within tickling distance of boats and brine.
“I believe that a good cioppino tells a lot of what you are about,” said Peacock, who grew up around fisherfolk on the Jersey Shore and later lived in seafood-happy Hawaii. “I really make a great one.”
Its broth a savory mélange of earth, sunshine, and sea, cioppino remains ultimately improvisable.
“The best part of cioppino is the various types of seafood you can find and the various styles” of cooking associated with specific localities, mused Peacock, who has won an episode of the Food Network show Chopped and whose résumé includes stints at Oakland’s Mua and Lungomare.
“The most difficult part in the dish is cooking all the different ingredients so that nothing is overcooked.”
Crafted via the same recipe for more than a decade, Peacock’s cioppino includes “unique ingredients, such as picking spice, vermouth, Dijon mustard, and lots of garlic.”
The finished product “has to have a kick to it. I also have to serve it with grilled bread to soak up all those flavors.”
Eve’s Waterfront, 15 Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-817-4477, EvesWaterfront.com.
Published online on April 28, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.