Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Stews»Spanish Portuguese»Fish Seafood»Spanish Shellfish Stew Zarzuela Recipe

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?

The Problem

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.

The Goal

We wanted a well-balanced stew, not too acidic, with a delicate shellfish flavor shining through.

The Solution

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.