Caldeirada – Portuguese fish stew

Caldeirada – Portuguese fish stew

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  • 6
  • Easy
  • Pescatarian
  • 30 minutes
  • About 1 hour
  • Uva Mira Chardonnay 2006


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large green sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 500 g ripe red tomatoes, skinned and chopped or 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  • 1-2 small hot red chillies, whole or split
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • ½ cup dry wine
  • 1 kg skinned and filleted mixed fish (including some monkfish if possible)
  • About 300g prawns in the shell, cleaned
  • About 250g tightly closed, cleaned clams or mussels (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • A crusty loaf or boiled potatoes, for serving

Cooking Instructions

Heat the oil in a large, heavy casserole. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook very gently for about 30 minutes, until meltingly soft and pale. This method of reducing onion and olive oil to a thick, sweet purée – the basis of many a Portuguese dish – is known as refogado.
Stir in the garlic. Add the sweet pepper and gently cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Add the tomato, paprika, bay leaf, parsley and chilli. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely reduced.
Pour in the stock and wine, and simmer fairly briskly for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash the fish then cut into large chunks. Salt lightly then set aside for about 20 minutes. Add the prepared fish and seafood to the pot. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked and the clams or mussels have opened.
Discard any that refuse to open. Check seasoning. Add a generous handful of coriander leaves. Serve with chunks of crusty bread for dipping or a few boiled potatoes and let everyone help themselves.
Cook’s note: See that all the ingredients are at room temperature. If necessary, defrost the ingredients overnight in the refrigerator, in a colander placed over a bowl to catch the drips.
Cook’s tip: As a variation, use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika and serve it drizzled with coriander pesto in wide, shallow bowls. To make the coriander pesto, pound or blend together 30g coriander leaves, 2 crushed cloves garlic, 1 chopped green chilli and salt to taste. Thin down with enough olive oil for a suitable drizzling consistency.
Per serving: 1737.69kJ, 33.68g protein, 24.32g fat, 8.23g carbs

TASTE’s take:
Every Portuguese household has its own take on this much-loved dish. So feel free to vary it according to what is freshest and best on the day of shopping. It’s a soupy stew so crusty bread – Portuguese potato loaf is perfect – is essential for dipping.

Phillippa Cheifitz Recipe by: Phillippa Cheifitz
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Regular TASTE contributor Phillippa is a well-known South African author and food writer, and has won many awards, both for her magazine features and her cookbooks.

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