This Catalan Fish Stew or Suquet de Peix is a flavoursome seafood stew from Spain, specifically from the Catalan and to some extent, the Valencian region. I think the first time I had this was over a decade ago in Girona, north of Barcelona, just off the French border. Being a huge seafood lover, I was immediately sold and find it extremely difficult not to order it everytime we find ourselves in the region!
It’s one of my favourite cold weather soups (or stew, depending on which way your boat rocks), full of all that the sea has to offer. Traditionally, this soup was made by fishermen up and down the north eastern coast of Spain, as a way to use up what was not sold at the end of the day.
A stew of any kind to me is meant to be eaten with bread, lots and lots of crusty bread to soak up all that delicious “juice” and this is no exception. Even garlic bread would be oh so good with this!
We’re coming to the end of our month in Spain and it has been a fairly quiet and relaxing month, something we desperately needed after the hustle and bustle of our trip to Asia, starting with my niece’s wedding in Kuala Lumpur. We visited Singapore where we caught up with even more family and friends and managed to take in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. There is so much to talk about, so many recipes to mention and post about, it’s going to take me forever, I think! If you do fancy recipes from any of the cities mentioned above, go on ahead to the World Cuisine Page or even the Home Page, and just choose your country!
The above picture shows you Alicante Marina on what was a warm and very still day. Alicante is in the South East of Spain.
And now, let’s get stewing with today’s recipe!
The Seafood – the choice of seafood you use is really up to you and I suppose will depend on what you can get where you are. Go for at least 2 types – a fish and some prawns or mussels. As I love seafood, I have to try hard not to go overboard with the amount I use!
Fish – monkfish is a popular choice here in Spain, its meaty and firm texture is perfect as the fish doesn’t fall apart during cooking. If you can’t get monkfish or if it’s too costly where you are, any firm white fleshed fish will do, like cod and hake. Now, don’t forget to ask your friendly fishmonger for the bones, so you can make some fresh stock for your stew! Ok, ok, go get that carton, but make sure it has no nasty additives!
Picada – this is a basic sauce that is used in Catalan cuisine although you will find that it’s found its way to many other parts of Spain too. It’s not a dipping sauce like aioli or mayonnaise but is actually a thickening ingredient used towards the end of cooking. It can be a simple 3 ingredient mix of garlic, almond and olive oil, pounded in a mortar or it can be a little bit more fancy and contain parsley, some toast and even peppers. I like simple, so mine is always just the first 3 ingredients, especially when I intend to serve the dish with some parsley or other herb.
- 8 raw almonds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp EV olive oil
- a handful of clams
- 16 mussels
- 2 squid tubes, sliced in rings
- half monkfish tail, cut into bitesize pieces
- 8 large prawns
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 500-750ml (2-3 cups) fish stock
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm/half an inch thick slices
- 1 pinch saffron
- 125ml/half cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp EV olive oil
- small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Heat a small frying pan on low heat and fry the almonds and garlic for about 3 minutes or so until lightly brown.
- Drain and set aside to cool (while you get the stew going).
- Pound to a paste in a pestle and mortar or pulse in you chopper. Add a touch of fresh olive oil to moisten, if need be.
- Heat a large casserole dish on medium heat and sauté the onions for 2 minutes until soft.
- Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes' juices are drying up.
- Add the potatoes and stir well to coat them.
- Increase the heat and add the wine, followed by the fish stock.
- Sprinkle the saffron all over, stir and bring back to boil.
- Lower heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are almost done. We don't want the potatoes too done here as the seafood has yet to go in.
- Lighten the picada slightly with a little bit of the stew (for easier mixing) and add to the casserole, stirring well. The stew will thicken slightly here.
- Add the fish and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the prawns and squid and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the shellfish if using, stir well and cook for just 2-3 minutes more until the clams and mussels have all popped open. Discard any that haven't popped open.
- Serve into individual bowls or take the whole casserole to the table. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with lots of bread.