One-Pot Wonders

Portuguese Seafood Stew that Reminds Us of Portugal

March 26, 2013
5 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to Portugal with friends. We traveled all over the country, and often for lunch, we found small, family-run restaurants where the husband fished, and the wife made a stew out of whatever was fresh-caught that day. These were some of our favorite meals—super fresh seafood prepared simply in a flavorful broth. Seafood stew made at home has since become one of our favorite suppers. Served with a green salad, a loaf of rustic bread, and lots of wine, this stew makes for a homey dinner with friends. —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

I enjoyed this dish more than I expected. The dish was filling yet let, thanks to its bright, warm flavors. The heat of the garlic and red pepper flakes, matched with the sharp lemon juice, made the dish feel that much more comforting. The combination of flavors were well balanced and it was easy to put together. I halved this and it was a generous amount for two people; and thought that olives were a great salty counterpoint to the mild fish (we used sole)—and it was great with crusty bread. I'd recommend stirring in the lemon juice, zest, and spices just before adding the fish so as not to break it up too much. —Annie "Smalls"

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 pound medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 large, sweet onion, halved pole to pole and sliced
  • 1 large bulb fennel, sliced thin, fronds reserved
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into approximately 1-inch pieces
  • 4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (use canned in the winter and spring)
  • 2 cups white wine (that you like to drink)
  • 2 pounds fresh white fish filets (I usually use two types of fish—whatever is freshest)
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, preferably Meyer
  • Red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper as desired (plus more if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed with mortar and pestle or ground in spice grinder (or more to taste)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives (optional)
  1. Place the shrimp shells in a large saucepan and cover with about 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered while you prepare the rest of the stew.
  2. In a separate, large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil till shimmering. Add the onions and fennel with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, and continue to cook for a few more minutes till they begin to soften. Stir in garlic, and cook another minute or 2 till you can smell the garlic; it shouldn't brown.
  3. Add potatoes, tomatoes, and wine. Strain the previously made shrimp stock into the Dutch oven. If vegetables are not completely covered, you can add more wine or water until they're all just covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered till potatoes can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes. (If you are making this ahead, you can stop here and refrigerate the stew. Bring it back to boil and then reduce the heat to simmer before adding the seafood.)
  4. Stir in the shrimp (Cut them in half if they are large.) and fish filets, being careful not to break them into too small of pieces. Stir in lemon juice and zest, red pepper flakes, and crushed fennel seed. Let fish and shrimp poach in broth for 5 to 10 minutes till just cooked through. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  5. To serve, ladle the stew into a bowl. Drizzle a little good olive oil on the top, and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and Kalamata olives (if desired). Add additional Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes if you like more heat.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Melissa
  • Niknud
  • stephanieRD
  • ChefJune
  • lapadia

16 Reviews

Dexter M. January 29, 2019
If you are using canned tomatoes, what's the amount?
drbabs January 29, 2019
4 whole tomatoes from a can.
Melissa March 26, 2018
MMMMM! Delicious comfort food! It's so good with the olives and fennel fronds sprinkled on top at the end! I used extra garlic. Used almost an entire bottle of white wine.
Chloroph November 8, 2017
This was amazing! :)
drbabs November 8, 2017
Thanks. You made my day!
Sharon February 23, 2016
I made this tonight and it was amazing. Simple and delicious.
The fennel added a lovely touch. Some crunchy acme bread and your good
drbabs February 24, 2016
I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!
btglenn February 21, 2016
Portugal has wonderful fish dishes, including the one here. Another, which I experienced in Portimau, a port for the sardine fishermen, was a fresh sardine casserole… the sardines were caught just that morning. The casserole consisted of chunks of sardines, though any sturdy fish will do, chunks of tomatoes, sliced onion, and par-cooked potato slices, and all mixed together with a little lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and olive oil and placed in your favorite baking dish. You can add a few lemon slices, optionally. Bake in a hot, pre-heated oven until bubbly. For this dish, the Portuguese did not add wine.
Niknud October 1, 2015
This sounds so delicious - love the addition of the fennel and fennel seeds. Must add a nice sweetness to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. I would probably omit the kalamata olives (personal preference) but it's going in the keeper pile. Love the menu that you paired with it. Crusty bread for soaking up all the sauce. Feel free to invite me over for dinner...
drbabs October 1, 2015
Thanks! I make this a lot, and I have to put the olives in the side because my husband hated them. Where do you live? You can come for dinner any time.
stephanieRD January 23, 2015
Made this recently and I think it's a keeper! Printing this off and keeping it with my other must-have recipes!
ChefJune January 5, 2015
Wow, I'm sure glad you suggested this recipe in Hotline. I hadn't seen it before. Sounds wonderful.
drbabs January 5, 2015
Thanks, June. We like it, and the great thing is, you can vary it according to your taste and what you have on hand. I made it last night but didn't have shrimp, so I used vegetable stock with a little Sherry and Worcestershire sauce. It was different, but really good.
Tabatha L. February 1, 2014
next try on the list....looks so awesome.
lapadia March 26, 2013
A beautiful and delicious recipe, drbabs!
drbabs March 26, 2013
Thanks, lapadia!