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Western classics.

One is Italian, by way of San Francisco. Two have roots in Mexico

Western classic dishes, indigenously or ethnically rooted by ingredients or people, are appealing enough to transcend trend and time. Which are the all-time favorites? We put the question to a vote of our readers as part of the search for Sunset's Best of the West, an all-new publication premiering on newsstands this spring.

Our readers chose these Western classics: cioppino, Caesar salad, and salsa. Many variations exist, but the following versions are noteworthy.


Italian immigrant fishermen in San Francisco get credit for creating cioppino, a stew made with local fish and shellfish. Why it's called cioppino is the subject of learned, heated, and often humorous debate.

Of the many cioppino recipes we received, a number were almost identical. To our surprise, they appear to come from a 1960 Sunset recipe. In it, seafood is layered with a tomato-chard-herb sauce and simmered.

Layered Cioppino

2 cans (26 oz. each) tomatoes

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons pepper

1 quart (about 10 oz.) coarsely chopped Swiss chard

2 large (about 1 lb. total) red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

2 tablespoons each chopped fresh marjoram leaves, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, and sage leaves; or 2 teaspoons of each dried herb

3 dozen small hard-shelled clams suitable for steaming

3 dozen extra-jumbo (about 2 lb. total, 16 to 20 per lb.) shrimp

2 large (about 2 lb. each) cooked Dungeness crab, cleaned and cracked

2 pounds firm white-flesh fish as rockfish, rinsed and cut into 2-inch chunks


In a large bowl, coarsely mash tomatoes. Stir in tomato paste, wine, oil, pepper, chard, bell peppers, parsley, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and sage.

Scrub clams. Discard gaping ones that won't start to close when touched; they're dead. To devein shrimp, insert tip of a slender skewer under vein between segments of shell along back and gently pull up. Repeat on each shrimp; rinse well.

Arrange clams in the bottom of a heavy 12- to 14-quart pan. Spoon 1/4 of the tomato mixture over clams. Layer shrimp, 1/4 of tomato mixture, crab, 1/4 of tomato mixture, fish, and remaining tomato mixture (a 12-qt. pan may be full to rim). Cover tightly and bring to a boil over high heat, 10 to 20 minutes. Simmer gently until fish is opaque but still moist-looking in thickest part (cut to test), 15 to 20 minutes. Ladle into wide bowls; dig deep to scoop from each layer. Add salt to taste. Serves 12.

Per serving: 290 cal. (25 percent from fat); 40 g protein;8.2 g fat (1.2 g sat.); 14 g carbo.; 633 mg sodium; 165 mg chol.

Flavor options. To tomato mixture, add 2 to 4 (2-in.-long) fresh red chilies, stemmed, seeded, and minced, and 1 cup chopped onion or green onion.

Replace fish chunks with 2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and drained.


A chef in Tijuana presented this salad, named in his own honor, to the world sometime in the first half of this century.

Many a stained, well-used "personally" written recipe ascribed to Caesar's hand has been copied and sent to us through the years. Most were similar; none were identical. Perhaps Caesar never ceased inventing. Basics include crisp romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, soft, warm egg, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Arguments start with anchovies. The first Caesar salad Sunset published, in 1945, didn't have anchovies. The party-size Caesar salad, at he end of our traditional recipe, does, plus other extras that have gained favor over time in this classic.

Egg-safe options follow if you want to replace the coddled egg.

Caesar Salad

1 clove garlic

6 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil

1 cup 3/4-inch cubes day-old French bread

1 large egg

3 quarts rinsed and crisped bite-size pieces romaine

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 or 4 canned anchovy fillets, chopped

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

To make garlic oil, crush garlic in a small bowl. Add oil and let stand for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

To make croutons, coat bread cubes with 2 tablespoons garlic all; spread out in a 9-inch-wide pan. Bake in a 325|degrees~ oven until browned, 20 to 25 minutes; stir occasionally.

To coddle egg, immerse in boiling water to cover for exactly 1 minute; use egg warm or cool.

Place romaine in a large bowl with a few croutons and pepper. Add remaining garlic oil and mix.

Break coddled egg over salad, sprinkle with lemon juice, and lift with a salad fork and spoon to mix well. Add anchovies and cheese; mix again. Add remaining croutons; mix gently. Serve at once. Makes 5 or 6 servings.

Per serving: 191 cal. (75 percent from fat); 5.7 g protein; 16 g fat (2.9 g sat); 6.6b g carbo.; 204 mg sodium; 40 mg chol.

Flavor options. Add to salad any or all of the following: 1 to 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce; 2 tablespoons chopped, drained oil-packed dried tomatoes; 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese.

Egg-safe Caesar. Omit coddled egg; use 3 tablespoons egg substitute or mayonnaise. Or mix 1 large egg white with lemon juice; cover and chill at least 48 hours or up to 4 days.

Altman's Caesar salad. Use 6 quarts rinsed, crisped bite-size pieces romaine. Make croutons (preceding) using 2 cups break cubes and 1/4 cup unseasoned olive oil.

In a large salad bowl, mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese; 1 coddled egg (preceding); 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard; 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce; 2 canned anchovy fillets, drained and minced, or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste; 1 teaspoon drained canned capers; and 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced. Add the romaine and croutons; mix well. Serves 10.--Bernie Altman, Los Angeles

Per serving: 209 cal. (78 percent from fat); 4.7 g protein; 18 g fat (2.9 g sat.); 7.9 g carbo.; 191 mg sodium; 24 mg chol.


When Spanish explorers came north from Mexico, the indigenous foods of Mexico followed, and so began our Western love affair with Mexican foods in general, and chilies in particular.

No dish better exemplifies this devotion than salsa. It's ubiquitous as a staple--the catsup of the '90s.

In salsa's simplest form chilies, mild to hot, are combined with tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and cilantro--then the seasonings take off in all directions. Fresca means the ingredients are mostly raw; favored present-day alternatives are canned chilies and canned tomatoes.

Salsa Fresca

1 large (about 3/4-lb.) ripe tomato

2 large tomatillos (about 6 oz. total) or 1 small (6-oz.) ripe tomato

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

1/3 cup chopped onion or green onions

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 to 6 tablespoons minced fresh or canned hot chilies


Core and coarsely chop tomato. Husk and chop tomatillos. Combine tomato, tomatillos, cilantro, onion, lime juice, and chilles and salt to taste. Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups.

Per 1/4 cup; 12 cal. (7.5 percent from fat); 0.5 g protein; 0.1 g fat (0 g sat.); 2.5 g carbo.; 3 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Flavor options. Instead of fresh tomatoes and tomatillos, use 1 can (28 oz.) ready-cut tomatoes.

Instead of lime juice, use 3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

Add 1 clove mined garlic.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Author:Anusasananan, Linda Lau
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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