This is a dish that I made for the first time last year after ordering it when I was out for dinner with my sisters last year. It was yummy but a little stewed, in a way that seafood just shouldn't be. I knew I could do better. I know it is rather and indulgent meal cost wise but the reality is that I made enough for 6 for around the same price as the dish cost me at the restaurant.
Don't you just love the way the word rolls off the tongue. Cataplana. But, whilst it is a bit of an indulgent meal to make I can assure you that it tastes even better than it feels to say the word. The saffron and star anise flavours just take it out of this world. The best moment was at the end of the meal when Sebastian (who easily ate as much as I did) gave me a big hug and said ‘Mum, thanks so much for making that dinner’.
A cataplana is actually a Portuguese copper cooking pot that you make individual serves in but I don't have any so I just made one big pot. After a bit of online research I put together the different ideas I found to come up with this. There are alot of ingredients and a few steps in the process but it is worth spending an afternoon pottering around in the kitchen over a glass of wine with a friend or two while you pull it together.
I think I might pop it on our meal plan for Sunday night, it will be just the ticket after the long run I have planned for the morning.
Cataplana of Seafood - Serves 6
About 800g red capsicums, chargrilled and skins removed
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Brown Onion, Diced
1 Clove Garlic
2 Cups White Wine (I used Verdhelo)
Large pinch of saffron threads
1 tin diced tomatoes
3 Star Anise
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
2 medium-large potatoes, peeled diced and cooked until just tender and drained
Leaves from a bunch of fresh basil
Mixture of Seafood (prawns, mussels, squid, firm flesh fish, crabs, bugs)
2 blue swimmer crabs, cut in half (although you would probably want 3 if you are making this for 6 adults)
600g green king prawns which I peeled, you might like to leave the tails on for presentation
1kg green mussels, washed and bearded. After you have washed your mussels put them in a bowl to catch any liquor.
About 500g salmon, cut into 1” chunks
Warm slices of crusty bread like ciabatta or sourdough
Freshly ground black pepper
Place roasted capsicum cheeks (and any juice from the bowl you had them in), garlic and 1 Tbs olive oil into the bowl of a small food processor together with some sea salt to taste and whizz to a paste
Heat Tbs olive oil in a heavy based saucepan and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant and soft. Add the wine and saffron and bring to a boil. Add water, tomatoes and star anise, reduce to a simmer while you start on the final dish.
In a large heavy based saucepan add all of the Lisbon paste and the finely chopped onion. Sauté until fragrant then add the potatoes. Finish cooking the potatoes and paste together, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes or until you start to get some caramelisation.
Add the stock into the pan, removing the star anise.
Add in crabs, fish and prawns finishing with the mussels on top. Put the lid on and cook until the mussels are opened.
Arrange in a large serving bowl with the crabs and mussels on top. Tear the basil leaves over and serve to the table with slices of warm crusty bread, black pepper for grinding and finger bowls.