Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Caldeirada / Portuguese Fish Stew

Caldeirada is a very typical Portuguese dish.  It is similar to the French dish, Bouillabaisse.  It's a type of fish stew cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, paprika, and of course fish.  I remember the first time I ate this was at my Mother-in-law's house, back when my husband and I were dating.  This is one of my husband's favourite meals.  I know how much he loves it, so I made it for dinner last night.  I would like to share the recipe with you:

Caldeirada - serves 4

1 large onion
2 large tomatoes
1 green bell pepper OR 1/2 green, 1/2 red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves
12-15 small boiling potatoes (of similar size)
3 tsp coarse salt
3 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 pounds assorted fresh fish
fresh seafood (if desired)

First, peel and cut onion into thin slices.  Chop 2 large tomatoes into coarse chunks.  Cut green pepper in half, lengthwise, remove seeds, and slice into thin strips.(You can also use 1/2 green pepper & 1/2 red pepper). Peel and thinly slice garlic cloves.  Set aside.  Peel 12-15 small potatoes, cut in half, and keep submerged in water until ready to use.

The trick to Caldeirada seems to be the importance of layering.  Here's how I do it...

Layer 1 - In a large pot, add half of each (onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers).  Add 1 tsp coarse salt, 1 tsp paprika powder, and bay leaf.

Layer 2 - Add all of the halved potatoes over the first layer.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of paprika powder.

Layer 3 - Over the potatoes, add remaining half of each (onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers).  Add 1 tsp of coarse salt, 1 tsp of paprika and 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro leaves.

Next, add 1 cup dry white wine to the layers and fill the rest of the pot with water, just until the potatoes are covered.  (I used 6 cups of water for my large pot).  Add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  Bring the water to a boil, over high heat. 

Let the stew boil for 5 minutes before you add the fish.  This is what it should look like.  Set the heat to medium high.  Now it's time to add the fish...

You can use 2-3 pounds of fresh fish.  I used sea bass, grouper, red snapper, skate fish, and 2 sardines (typical of Portuguese Caldeirada).  This fish was bought fresh and cut at the market.  You must use fresh, frozen just won't give you the same flavour.  I also added some mussels, clams, and a couple of blue crabs. (You don't have to add the seafood if you don't want to).  You can also add shrimp or scallops, if you like. Seafood adds great flavour to the stew. 

Place mussels, clams, and crabs on top of your stew, and then the sliced, assorted fish over top.  Cover the pot with its lid and cook over medium high heat for approximately 20 minutes, or just until potatoes are cooked.  The steam from the sealed pot will cook the fish, without having to immerse it in water.  Be sure to check the potatoes, you wouldn't want them to overcook and break.  It will make a mess in the stew. And of course, don't forget to taste for salt. 

And here is the stew, served on a typical Portuguese plate.  Use a ladle to pour some of the delicious sauce over the fish and make sure you have some fresh, crusty bread for dipping!  Add some chopped cilantro over top and you have a delicious meal! 

ENJOY!!  xoxo


  1. Of all the food I would want to eat, this would be #1 on my list. It looks absolutely fantastic. How interesting that you call shellfish seafood. Here seafood is any-- well-- seafood, fish included. Love how it looks on the beautiful red plates. Deeeeelish as my Montreal chef-crush would say!

  2. That looks fantastic!! Rod just loves fish stew- there is an Italian version that he typically orders if we are out for dinner---you have made this look so very easy but I'm sure you've done it many times and have a knack for it. I'll have to give it a try though---my goodness, how yummy looking!! xo Joann

  3. This looks absolutely gorgeous Rosinda! I know that my Dad would absolutely love it, so I've written down the recipe & will make it for him...I'll report back! I love these traditional dishes that are passed through families...wonderful to think that Annabel & Anita will probably making this for their own families in later years! No wonder it's Nuno's favourite...yum!!! xoxo

  4. This is my favourite...and you make it look so good Rosinda, keep up the good work ;)

  5. I'm going to track down some fresh fish and make this. It looks delicious and you make it look easy (I love how you do that :) ) Your photography is beautiful! xoxo

  6. Hi sweetie,
    The Caldeirada looks lovely and I am a huge fan of Bouillabaisse so I will definitely give this dish a try :)
    Love Morwenna

  7. I can't wait to make it it look delicioso.
    Thx for sharing. Happy new year.

    1. Thank you! You're welcome! Hope you enjoy it. Happy New Year!

  8. Just an amazing dish! You can add any type of fish youd like. I tend to use calamari, shrimp, scallops, and clams. Be sure to add a few dashes of hot pepper sauce. The best is mashing those potatoes in that amazing broth, so add plenty of potatoes. Add your fishes at different times. Scallops and shrimp last.

  9. Bought a grouper head at the market today, so was looking for hearty fish soup. Your recipe hit all the marks. Will try it tonight. Oh and I have all the ingredients. Lol