Caldereta de bacalao fresco y gambas (Cod and Prawn Caldereta)

This traditional Spanish fish stew uses two techniques that you may be unfamiliar with: “majado” and chascar”.

The “majado” is a paste, most commonly consisting of fried bread, almonds and garlic, which is pounded in a pestle and mortar. Apart from flavour it also helps to thicken up the stew. This majado is also good in meat & poultry stews especially if the liver is also pounded into the majado.

“Chascar” is a technique whereby a potato is cut in a way that helps it to release its starch during the cooking process. To chascar you need to hold the whole potato in your hand and start to cut a chunk but stop a little bit before you get to the end. At this point you can use the knife as a lever to rip off the potato chunk towards you. This means that the potato will have an uneven surface, which apparently aids the potato to release more starch during the cooking process and by consequence will thicken the stew. I don’t know if scientifically this makes any sense but this is how my mother and her mother and countless other generations have typically cut potatoes for stews, and so I follow suit. To see how to chascar follow this link. Alternatively, you can just cut the potato however you prefer .

Ingredients

Fish stock:

Cod head and/or other fish scraps

Prawn shells

3 cloves

2 bay leaves

½ onion

Majado:

Olive oil

1 bread slice, crusts removed

2 garlic cloves

5 almonds

1-2 Tbsp. fish stock

Caldereta:

2 ripe tomatoes, grated

1 tsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)

3 dried cayenne chillies

2 garlic cloves, sliced

3 potatoes, chascadas or cut into chunks

1 bunch of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

4 slices cod

A few peeled prawns

Method

Make a stock with the cod head and other fish scraps, cloves, bay leaves and ½ an onion. Bring to the boil, skim off the impurities and then simmer for 10 minutes. Sieve and reserve.

Make the majado by toasting the almonds in a dry frying pan and then frying the bread in oil until toasted. Transfer to a pestle and mortar along with the garlic and pound into a paste. Add a bit of the previously made fish stock and combine well. Set aside.

1 Fry garlic and chillies. Add the pimenton and quickly add the grated tomatoes so that the pimenton doesn’t burn. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

2 Add the stock and majado and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

3 Add the potatoes (chascadas or not) and cook for a further 10 minutes.

4 Add the fish and cook for 5 minutes.

5 Add the prawns and cook for 3-4 minutes.

6 Remove from the heat, add the fresh parsley, cover and let it rest for 5-minutes.

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