Recipe submitted by Eric Markson, Sonoma Valley Inn

In Sonoma, winter means fresh Dungeness Crab enjoyed by friends and family, highlighted best through Cioppino, a regional dish popularized by California's first Italian immigrants. Often served on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or both, it's become a seasonal favorite. Cioppino is easy to make, but make sure you use the freshest seafood you can find. Enjoy!



  • 3 whole dungeness cabs
  • 18 live local clams,
  • 2 cans minced clams in juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh Sea Bass, Snapper or other firm fish, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
  • 12 peeled and deveined prawns
  • 1-pound small shrimp, fresh or frozen and defrosted

Cioppino Base:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium Jalapeno sliced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 bottle Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 24 oz Chicken Stock-more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 28oz can whole tomatoes


Step 1. Crack and clean 3 large fresh Dungeness Crabs, removing the lump meat from the body-saving for later. Scrub clams, devein prawns and shrimp, cut fish in to 1 1/2-inch pieces

Step 2. Prep-Onion, peppers, garlic, celery, carrots, open wine and pour yourself a glass-always cook with what you like to drink.

Step 3. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat add the carrots, onions, peppers, and celery, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and seasonings cook until fragrant. Add the wine, vinegar and reduce. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, basil and parsley bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 4. Add Dungeness Crab legs and claws, keep at a low simmer for 20 minutes, keep stirring

Step 5. Increase heat to medium add the fresh fish, minced clams, clams, lump meat crab, cover and cook for 5 minutes stir, add pawns and shrimp and cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, remove from heat and serve with Sonoma Sourdough bread.