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Our dinner last night Zarzuela this excellent seafood stew comes from the Catalan coast of northeast Spain. Zarzuela means "operetta," "variety show", or “medley” in Spanish" and perfectly describes the sing-song versatility of this dish. The greater the variety of seafood you add to this dish, the better its flavor will be. Unites a variety of fish and is, like bouillabaisse, a dish whose ingredients can be varied according to what you can find. The traditional sauce accompaniment for Zarzuela is Romesco, but the variation makes that superfluous. I love this with crusty bread.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons Spanish brandy or cognac
1 small dried chile or ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Pinch of saffron threads, optional
2 large tomatoes (drained canned are fine), cored and diced
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 pounds mussels, cleaned
1 1/2 pounds littleneck or mahogany clams or cockles, well scrubbed
1/2 pound shrimp (15 to 30 per pound), peeled
1/2 pound squid, cleaned , cut into rings, tentacles left intact
1 pound fillets of halibut, monkfish, grouper, or other firm white fish, skinned and cut into 1-inch chunks
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish. Cook time is 45 minutes.
Put the oil in a deep skillet or flameproof casserole with a lid and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the brandy and bring the mixture to a boil. Crumble the chile and saffron if you're using it into the skillet, then stir in the tomatoes along with a little salt and pepper. When the tomatoes break up, add the wine and bring to a boil.
Add the mussels and clams and cover. Cook until the first of these begin to open, about 5 minutes.
Add the shrimp, squid, and fish and cook until the shrimp is pink, the fish cooked through, and most of the mollusks open, another 5 to 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish and serve.