Thursday, March 6, 2014

Zarzuela de Marisco - Spanish Seafood Stew


One of the dishes that I enjoy having at local Spanish restaurants and on the trips I've made to Spain is Zarzuela de Marisco (zar-zoo-ella de ma-reese-co). Basically, a Spanish Seafood Stew. It's what I consider the perfect quintessential classic Spanish meal. It' warm and hearty and simply delicious. What I love about this recipe is that you use small amounts of seafood to make the whole, so it really isn't as expensive as it may seem at first. The sauce is what makes this dish so special, you simmer tomatoes, onions, peppers, saffron and lots of garlic, then add in ground almonds to thicken the sauce, seafood stock and sherry or wine. The seafood is cooked till just done to keep everything tender.  My favorite part is dipping big pieces of bread into the sauce and scooping out a piece of shrimp and just chowing down. Really, if you have bread, you don't need utensils! 

Serves 4-6

2 -3 fish fillets (get a variety such as snapper, sea bass, mahi) cut into thick chunks
1 pound mussels
1 1/2 pound large shrimp (deveined and peeled - save the peel)
1/2 pound baby octopus, cleaned and cut down (save any cutaway parts)
1/2 pound calamari rings - sliced in thick rings
1/2 large scallops
2 small lobster tails, (shell removed - save shell)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 large onion chopped/diced
2 bell peppers (get  1 red, 1 green) diced
5 - 7 cloves garlic minced
4 large tomatoes chopped or 2 - 14.5 oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup ground almond
2-3 bay leaf
A pinch of saffron
Salt & pepper - to taste
1 cup cup sherry or white wine

1 1/2 cups seafood stock*
1/4 cup brandy or rum

2 to 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

  • Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onions, peppers and garlic. Saute 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are translucent. Lower heat if needed.
  • Stir in tomatoes, almonds, bay leaf, saffron, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Sauce will be thick.
  • Add sherry/wine and stock, stir, bring back up to a boil, then lower heat to low and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add in all the fish and seafood, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Make sure to NOT overcook.
  • Add brandy, and light with a match.  Be sure to take off heat if cooking on gas stove. Let the flames die down.
  • Taste, adjust seasonings, sprinkle parsley over top and gently stir through.

Serve with a big generous loaf of crusty bread, or serve over white rice and a good crisp, dry white wine.

*Recipe Notes: You can make your own seafood stock by using all the shells from the seafood and the trimmings from the onions, garlic and bell peppers. Place them in 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Use in the recipe or freeze for use at another time.


  1. Fantastic job Jackie....! Excellent recipe&photography!
    Have a great weekend!

  2. Thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed your weekend too :-D