It’s not necessary to shell out a lot of cash for expensive seafood when making cioppino. Though most restaurants include Dungeness crab, even that’s not a must, say chowhounds. What you do need are a flavorful fish stock and shellfish like clams and/or mussels, in addition to shrimp and white fish. Asian markets are a good source for inexpensive shellfish, as well as fish heads and trimmings for making stock. Good-quality frozen fish and shrimp are fine for a cost-conscious cioppiono; Trader Joe’s is a good source.
Cioppino on a budget… will frozen fish do?