Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Zarzuela de Mariscos (Spanish Seafood and Shellfish Stew)

The wonderful fresh array of seafood that is found all over Spain

This excellent seafood stew comes from the Catalan coast of northeast Spain. Zarzuela means "operetta," or "variety show," and perfectly describes the sing-song versatility of this dish. The greater the variety of seafood you add to this dish, the better its flavour will be.

Zarzuela de Mariscos
(Spanish Seafood and Shellfish Stew)

4 to 6 servings


175 ml white wine
85 ml sherry, Manzilla or Fino
Fish and shellfish (see variations), cleaned and prepared -- 2 pounds
Olive oil
1 Onion, chopped
Red, green or yellow bell peppers, diced
3-5 cloves Garlic, crushed
Serrano ham or prosciutto (optional), sliced into thin strips
2 large Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
a large handful of almonds, ground in a spice grinder or food processor
1 Bay leaf
Saffron - pinch
Salt and pepper - to taste
Water or stock - 3 cups
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
 Parsley, chopped

Spanish seafood stew


Clean and prepare your fish and shellfish  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sauté until onion turns translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, ground almonds, bay leaf, saffron and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to marry the flavours and reduce the liquid.

Add the wine and sherry and simmer to reduce its volume by about half. Then add the water or stock, lemon juice and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Add the fish and seafood to the stew. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until everything is cooked through. Do not overcook. Adjust seasoning and serve.


Use whatever fresh fish and seafood is available. Any firm, white-fleshed fish, cut into large chunks, is a good base. Other possible additions include calamari, , scallops, mussels, clams, crab, lobster and crayfish.