Recipe: Cataplana (and arroz caldoso)

Lazy Saturday – when you finally have the time to go to the market, overload yourself with food and narrowly avoid splurging on a dried fish. Or at least you think it’s a fish. If you don’t identify with the latter part of that sentence then you’re clearly from North London.

The best indulgence food in my opinion is seafood – I’m normally too time-poor to do the filleting and scrubbing required of a decent creature and too poor-poor to actually buy any. But Saturday was different, so we stocked up on shellfish and white wine, set Spotify to ‘Destiny’s Child’ and let the magic do the seasoning.

This recipe is based on the one from Saturday Kitchen (but actually makes sense). A proper cataplana does, of course, involve clams – however, these are usually prohibitively expensive and mussels and prawns do just as well.



For the Lisbon paste:

6 red peppers

50ml olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

For the stock:

4 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, sliced

1 bay leaf

4 anchovies

2 large tomatoes, chopped

200ml dry white wine mixed with 1/2 tsp of saffron for half an hour

100ml fish stock

1 star anise

For the rest:

Olive oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 kilo of mussels, scrubbed and prepared (a how-to here)

250g of raw prawns

250g of white fish fillets (firm, like seabass, is good)

One or two medium cooked potatoes (or a handful of jersey royals)

Flat leaf parsley, to serve


1. Heat a skillet and dry roast the peppers until charred

2. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film; set aside for ten minutes
3. Take the cooled pepper and remove the skin; roughly chop
4. Blend the peppers with the garlic in a food processor
5. Add the olive oil and season well; set aside
6. To make the stock, gently fry the onions, bay leaf and garlic in olive oil until the onions are soft
7. Add the Lisbon paste and fry for another minute
8. Throw in the anchovies and fry for a further three
9. Add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes
10. Add the wine, star anise and chicken stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes
11. Finally, the cataplana (if you don’t have one, a big saucepan with a good lid will do)
12. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft
13. Add the potatoes and shellfish with a ladle of the hot stock and close the lid for two minutes
14. Add the fish and chopped parsley with another ladle of stock; cook for another five minutes with the lid on
15. For best results, unveil at the table for guaranteed wows and serve with warm fresh bread to mop up

Make it go further – Arroz caldoso

Save your leftover fish bones, fish heads and shellfish shells when you’re done. Give them a quick rise and then add to a pot with a carrot, onion and celery stick and a handful of unchopped parsley. Add water to fill your saucepan and let bubble away for around an hour to get a decent stock.

Add to the leftover stock from the cataplana and boil up.

Finely chop an onion and clove of garlic and fry until soft before adding roughly chopped chicken thigh and browning.

Add long grain or pearl rice with the needed amount of your stock and a glass of leftover white wine and bring to boil and reducing to a simmer. The rice should be nice and soupy when you’re done, so add more stock if you need.


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