Cioppino is a seafood stew invented in the 1800’s by the Italian fishing community that worked the San Francisco bay and nearby Pacific waters. They would pick from whateve was least marketable from their haul and turn it into this
This is a very "hands on" presentation. Advise your guests to dress accordingly, and have lots of napkins handy.
Many types of seafood work, but in general shellfish is prominent in traditional cioppino. Dungeness crab is the most traditional key ingredient.
Of course nothing is better than wild caught in your own boat, but most of us in flyover country are stuck visiting the seafood section of our grocery. The good news is that frozen bags of mixed shellfish can be pretty good. An example is Costco frozen "Premium Seafood Medley" which comes in reasonably priced 2.5lb bags.
Permission to use this recipe is withdrawn for anyone who omits the Dungeness crab. There are those who claim it is an optional ingredient in cioppino. We refer to those people as "wrong".
If you're fond of one particular shellfish (like crab or shrimp) feel free to add more "to taste".
Put the olive oil, butter, and garlic in a wide, deep pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, but not brown.
Boil & drain linguini, set aside and keep warm
If using Bag O'Shellfish (adjust times if still frozen)
Add the wine and all the clams and mussels from the bag, and cover. Steam medium-high about 5 minutes.
Add crab and any extra shrimp, and simmer for about 5 minutes
If using Live Shellfish
Add the wine and the clams, and cover. Turn the heat up to medium-high and steam until the clams start to open, about 5 minutes.
Add the mussels, cover and steam until they just start to open, about 2 minutes.
Add remaining seafood and simmer about 5 more minutes
Gently stir in the white fish and the rest of the bag o' shellfish, return to simmer until the fish is just cooked through.
Place linguini in individual bowls and ladle the cioppino over the pasta. Have tools to crack shells, and lots of napkins! Try to make sure everybody gets a good amount of the crab! Sourdough bread is a great accompaniment. Set out a community bowl for the shells, which will make a great seafood stock.