Zarzuela de Mariscos
(Spanish seafood stew)
Zarzuela de mariscos is an excellent seafood stew 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 flavor will be.
The recipe can be completed through Step 4 and stored in the refrigerator. The stew will actually improve in flavor. Bring back to a simmer and add the fish and seafood just before serving.
4 to 6 servings
- Fish and shellfish (see variations), cleaned and prepared -- 3 pounds
- Olive oil -- 1/4 cup
- Onion, minced -- 1
- Red, green or yellow bell peppers, small dice -- 2
- Garlic, minced -- 3 to 5 cloves
- Serrano ham or prosciutto (optional), sliced into thin strips -- 1/4 cup
- Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced -- 3 to 4 cups
- Almonds, ground in a spice grinder or food processor -- 1/2 cup
- Bay leaf -- 1
- Saffron -- pinch
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- White wine -- 1 cup
- Water or stock -- 3 cups
- Lemon juice -- 1 tablespoon
- Parsley, minced -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Clean and prepare your fish and shellfish as directed below. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onion, peppers and garlic and saute until onion turns translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto and saute 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 flavors and reduce the liquid somewhat.
- Add the wine 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.
Zarzuela de Mariscos Variations
- 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, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, crab, lobster and crayfish.
- Add a pinch of thyme or rosemary if you like.
- Add a dash of anise liqueur to perk up the flavor.
- If both Serrano ham and prosciutto are unavailable, use a good quality cured ham.
- Substitute hazelnuts for the almonds.