After poring through numerous recipes for Zarzuela we were surprised to find that most were made without fish stock. Is it possible to make a successful fish stew, packed with flavor, leaving out the labor-intensive fish stock?
Without fish stock, our biggest concern was that the stew would be too acidic with just tomatoes and wine-and that there would not be enough broth for the ingredients.
We wanted a well-balanced stew, not too acidic, with a delicate shellfish flavor shining through.
To solve the quantity of broth issue, we increased the amount of wine and tomatoes-and rebalanced the proportions. Analyzing the shellfish, we decided that breaking down a live lobster may be a bit of a challenge, so we decided to omit it. We replaced the missing flavor by sautéing the shrimp shells in a touch of olive oil and then steeping them in the wine to infuse their flavor. We also added some traditional Spanish flavors: garlic, saffron, and paprika to round out and give depth to the stew. Finally, we added a picada-breadcrumbs toasted in a little olive oil-to heighten the flavor of the shellfish and thicken the broth.