Cataplana

This next recipe, for a fish and shellfish casserole, is a classic of the Portuguese kitchen, and not at all difficult to prepare at home.

Unless you have a cataplana, I suggest a deep, lidded sauté pan that will fit in the oven. Choose fresh firm-textured fish, such as sea bream, red snapper, monkfish, John Dory and cod or haddock. Aim for at least 2 to 3 different kinds of fish, and a similar variety of fresh shellfish, such as clams, mussels, prawns, langoustines and lobsters. Allow 200g (7oz) fish and 100g (4oz) shellfish each, as this is a one-pot meal requiring nothing more than salad and bread, plus a little fruit for dessert.

The fish should be filleted, skinned, and cut into 5cm (2 inch) chunks, approximately. The shellfish should be scrubbed, trimmed and rinsed, as appropriate.

Prepare the base, or fond, first, as the fish only takes a little time to cook.

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Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced 1 bay leaf
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons good dry white wine
  • 8 tablespoons fish stock
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh coriander

Method

Gently fry the onion, pepper and garlic in the oil, with the bay leaf, until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes, wine and stock, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until you have a flavoursome sauce.

Heat some more extra-virgin olive oil, and briefly fry the fish in it, but no longer than to just remove the raw look. Put the fish, shellfish and fond in the cataplana or pan, and put in a preheated oven at 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, add the seasoning and a handful of chopped parsley and coriander. Bring to the boil, and serve immediately.

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