I am not sure what’s so magical with mixed seafood but there’s something in it that makes me want it always.  Is it the different diverse flavours, is it the array of textures or is it the vibrant colours and shapes whatever reason it is they always top on my favourite dishes list and this dish is nothing different the Zarzuela.

Zarzuela is a type of fish and seafood stew that originated in Spain, a very rich dish made out of mixed seafood such as mussels, scallops, lobster, prawns, clams, fish, squid and / or crabs cooked in a good stock coloured with saffron.  As you can see everything in the traditional version of dish might cost a little bit of money like prawns, lobster, crabs, scallops and even saffron (the most expensive spice in the world, here it costs $9.79 / 0.5g  as of this post) but I think it’s all worth it and I will be happy to eat this everyday if someone supplies me the ingredients for free :).

The name of the dish came from a type of comic opera, which in turn was named after the Palace of Zarzuela where opera was first performed.  That palace was then named after its thorny location filled with zarza (bramble, a thorny bush).  Now you might ask how the dish was related to the bush, it is because the traditional Catalonian version of this dish contains some spiny lobster.

For this post we haven’t used the traditional ingredients so we omitted lobsters and crabs so we can call this the economical version (even with the pinch of saffron in there), but having said that, trust me it still tastes great!


15 pcs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
300g monk fish (any fleshy white fish) fillets, cubed
15 pcs mussels, cleaned
2 large squid, sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups clam juice or seafood stock
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large white onions, chopped
3 pinches of saffron
freshly ground black pepper
parsley, chopped

Ingredients (Picada)

2 pcs toasted baguette slices
1 dozen almonds
2 clove garlic
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp minced parsley


1. In a large pot add oil then sauté onions, cook until onions are soft.
2. Add the wine, tomato paste, clam juice, saffron and squid then bring to a boil.  Bring to simmering heat.
3. Season your remaining seafood with salt and pepper then start to add the seafood one type at a time.  Cover the pot, simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
4. While waiting prepare the picada by mixing all the picada ingredients in a food processor until it becomes a paste.
5. Stir the picada sauce into the stew, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then turn heat off.
6. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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19 thoughts on “Zarzuela

  1. Among all kinds of stew, I think I love seafood one the most. The juice coming from seafood to the stew is just so amazing, and always light. I’ve never heard of this name before and it’s so shame! I am bookmarking and will try one day! I still need to make your pho etc… so busy!!

  2. Interesting that I saw the list of ingredients for the picada and assumed they would be side dishes (as in using the bread to slurp up the sauce). It was a pleasant surprise to see it as a thickening mixture for the dish in the same way peanuts are used to thicken the sauce for kare-kare! This looks like a really sophisticated dish. :D

  3. My husband is right there with you on loving a big bowl of mixed seafood. Anytime he sees ciappino on the menu, he orders it. I know he would absolutely love this dish! I like my seafood one type at a time. A bowl of mixed seafood is too overwhelming to me, but yours sure looks good! Maybe the husband would let me pick out the squid. :)

  4. Great dish, and your version is excellent. I wouldn’t miss the lobster or crab at all – this has more than enough flavor to satisfy me. But – now I need seafood. I mean, right now! ;-) Good post – thank you.

  5. Pingback: Mixed Seafood in Oyster Sauce | Ang Sarap (A Tagalog word for "It's Delicious")

  6. Pingback: Moqueca de Peixe (Brazilian Fish Stew) | Ang Sarap (A Tagalog word for "It's Delicious")

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