So to placate the portuguese detective I’m cooking Caldeirada for tea. My mum and dad always join us on Wednesdays so I do tend to use them as recipe guinea pigs. Zeph always likes Wednesdays as I usually make some kind of effort and on particularly frugal weeks it maybe the only meal that isn’t soup…

Recklessly during the weekends research I promised this and spent yesterday looking at a million various recipes. Essentially it’s a fish stew, but with regional variations and it would have been whatever the fisherman had left over and couldn’t sell from their days catch. I found several recipes that said it should have oily, firm and flaky fish plus shellfish and several that said adding shellfish was a cardinal sin. Some say saffron and others say saffron is the work of the Caldeirada hating devil. So I’ve just taken all the ingredients I like and have and am applying an amalgamation of all the various methods – voila :

4 onions (I used 3 white and one red), 2 red peppers , garlic,1 red chilli, coriander,parsley, 3 big tomatoes, about 5 potatoes (better if they’re waxy ones) Olive oil, white wine,

I chopped all this – the onions into half moons and the potatoes into thinnish rounds and layered all into my new, much appreciated Xmas present, super versatile, white enamel pot. Seasoned and added a healthy glug of oil and wine and a handful each of the herbs chopped and put the pot, without the lid, into a medium oven to roast/braise for about 1/2 an hour – until it smalls good and the potatoes are softish.

Many of the recipes put it all together but I don’t want to overcook the fish waiting for the potatoes to do. Also it strikes me you could do this bit ahead then add the fish and reheat at the same time in about 20 mins.

umm Fish! – we have cod (sharp in drawn breath…I am avoiding cod but my dad bought this hugely reduced from the whoops shelf at the supermarket, he says it’s a marvelous sign that they have to reduce it but couldn’t bear to see it going to waste so it’s been lurking in the freezer) and I bought (from same supermarket so boosting sales and demand for sustainable fish – defensive, me?) sardines and 4 small  squid. In my mind I had been thinking of these or cockles, mackerel or mussels which they didn’t have.  Several recipes I read have listed monkfish, tuna, halibut, swordfish, clams and octopus all in one dish as well as cupfuls of first pressed olive oil and handfuls of saffron. Peasant food my arse – Zeph is mightily cast down at my restrained version. I have told him when he has  all these fish left over from a fishing trip I’ll oblige him and until then…

I would be putting saffron in but can’t afford this AND the fish and have decided fish seems more vital.

I’m leaving the sardine fillets whole, cut the cod into chunks and the squid into rings.

I toyed with the idea of adding a tin of tomatoes to make more of a sauce but the sauce should be made just with the fish and veg juices topped up with wine and oil so have decided against it.

I put the sardines in first until they’re done a little (10 mins) I also added another  tomato, the rest of the herbs and a spur of the moment addition of a few  spring onions, all chopped. Then added the cod (another 10ish) then the squid rings on top – v quickly (1 or 2 mins) on high heat. Serve with bread and salad. Yum. It’s a lot like boulibasse. (A slightly contentious statement I realise) 

I think this is a fancy version and I’ll try a cheaper version with whole fish instead of fillets as the heads and stuff would give a better flavour. This version is definitely a for best version and I can see it would be cheaper and more flavoursome to do it the other way. I’d put it all in together then.

Was a great dish to put in the middle of the table and all dig into and Ida ate some even though she’s seriously off colour, winner all round. Zeph has high hopes of cooking something from each of his homework countries  – I have remained vague.


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