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Fisherman’s Wharf in your own kitchen

manutdonline, Wikimedia Commons

If you can’t make it over to Fisherman’s Wharf, try making a pot of seafood bouillabaisse at home.


Years ago, there was a “yard” sale at the Moss Landing harbor where we keep our fishing boat. It was held in a rented mini storage shed and the sight of books lured me right in.

One of the books I bought was called Fisherman’s Wharf Cookbook, by Barbara Lawrence. It was published in 1971 and the wharf featured is the one in San Francisco.

The recipes were provided by the owners of the restaurants. If you are like me, and still reluctant to travel and mingle, you might want to bring the flavors of the wharf restaurants to your own table. Here are a few of the recipes.

Shellfish bouillabaisse

From Alioto’s. I prefer to leave the crab, prawns and clams in their shells. Also, lobster, if the tails are small. Feel free to add thick fillets of firm fish, such as rockfish or halibut.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced (I would use much more)

Pinch of rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 ounces lobster meat, uncooked

3 ounces scallops, uncooked

4 ounces prawns, uncooked

2 ounces crab legs, shelled

4 ounces clams, raw

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 cup tomato pulp

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

2 cups fish stock (see recipe)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons salt (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon saffron

1. Make fish stock. Place olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add onion, celery, garlic, rosemary and parsley; saute for 5 minutes.

2. Add the shellfish (cleaned and shelled, unless you choose otherwise) and the sherry. Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomato pulp, lemon slices, fish stock, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes, perhaps a little longer if the seafood has shells.

4. Add the saffron at the last minute, stir well and serve.

Fish stock

Not sure why you would need to use an enameled pan.

Heads and trimmings of 2 white-fleshed fish

1 carrot, sliced

2 onions, sliced

1 bay leaf

2 white peppercorns

Water to cover (add wine if desired)

1. Wash the pieces of fish. Combine all ingredients in an enameled pan and bring to a boil.

2. Simmer for at least 1 hour. You can leave it uncovered as long as the stock doesn’t reduce too much. Strain before using.

Jumbo prawns with mushrooms and onions

From Di Maggio’s.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

20 large prawns, peeled

1/2 cup green onions, chopped (both the white and green parts)

1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 ounces dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy saute pan. Add the jumbo prawns, which have been split partly through the back. Stir gently for 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the chopped green onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook until the prawns have changed color and are firm, then add the dry white wine.

3. Cook about 3 minutes and serve in a hot dish.

Crab legs and shrimp Creole

From Fishermen’s Grotto.

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon celery, chopped

1 cup solid-pack tomatoes

1 cup tomato sauce

1/4 cup sherry

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup crab meat from legs

1/2 cup cooked shrimp, peeled

1. Saute the onions, celery, garlic and parsley in olive oil until they are golden brown, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, salt, paprika and water. Simmer for 1 hour.

3. Add the sherry and simmer for about 5 minutes. Place the crab meat and shrimp in a buttered casserole, cover with the sauce and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Sole Amandine

From Scoma’s. I prefer this without the chicken broth sauce, but it’s up to you. I do keep the lemon juice, parsley and almonds however.​

2 pounds sole fillets




Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

4 ounces sliced almonds, sauteed in butter

1. Sprinkle the fish fillets lightly with salt, then dip each one into flour. Melt about 1/2 stick of butter in a heavy skillet. Place the fillets in a single layer and cook on medium-high heat until golden brown on each side.

2. Repeat until all fillets have been cooked, adding additional butter as needed. As fillets are cooked, place them on a heatproof platter to keep warm in an oven at 200 degrees.

3. When all have been cooked, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, chicken broth, lemon juice and parsley. Heat until slightly thickened and pour sauce over fish. Top with the sliced almonds.



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