Zarzuela de Pescado y Mariscos
Located on the north-east coast of Spain, Catalonia is recognised for the diversity of its cuisine. Thanks to the region’s privileged location between the mountains and the sea it has ready access to livestock and vegetables from the interior and fresh seafood from the Mediterranean. This has resulted in Catalan cuisine often being described as ‘Mar i Muntanya’ which combines fish and seafood with mountain produce such as pork and chicken. ‘Pollastre amb gambes’ (chicken with prawns) is one classic example of such cuisine.
Catalonia, together with Valencia and the Balearic Islands, is also known for its seafood stews such as ‘Zarzuela de Pescado y Marisco’ which is popular at major family celebrations. The dish takes a while to prepare but is definitely worth the effort.
In our version of the recipe we’ve used hake and monkfish as they are quite sturdy fish which don’t tend to break up too much. However, if these aren’t available you can always use cod or haddock as an alternative. Clams can also be added if you want some extra shellfish.
Serves 4 people
- 250g hake
- 250g monkfish
- 500g mussels
- 500g large prawns preferably in their shells
- 500g calamares/squid (either full squid or rings)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tomatoes, chopped (without skin and seeds)
- 150ml white wine
- 500ml fish stock (from the mussels and boiling prawn heads and shells)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Start by cleaning the mussels and discarding any that have broken or open shells. If you have prawns in their shells peel about half of them and save the heads and shells to make the stock. If you have full squid then clean these too and cut into rings or chunks.
If you have prawns in their shells then add approximately 500ml water to a saucepan otherwise only add about 200ml. Bring the water to the boil, add the mussels and cook over a medium to high heat until they all open. Remove the mussels and set aside. Now boil the prawn heads and shells in the same water for about 10 minutes. Discard the heads and shells and save the stock that they have been boiled in.
While the prawn heads and shells are boiling you can start cooking the rest of the dish.
Add the oil to a frying pan or casserole and fry the diced onions, red and green peppers and garlic and bay leaf over a medium heat for 10 or 15 minutes till they are soft. Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook over a medium heat for a further 10 minutes.
While that is cooking, chop the hake and monkfish into bite-sized chunks.
Once the tomatoes have reduced down add the fish, prawns, squid, mussels and white wine. You should also add about 500ml of fish stock. This may all come from the boiling that you have previously done or you may need to add more either from a previously prepared batch or shop bought stock. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cook for about 15 minutes.
Serve with crusty bread.