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Caldeirada de Lulas ❦ Portuguese Squid Potato and Bell Pepper Stew

Caldeirada is a Portuguese and Galician (Northwestern Spain region) fish stew consisting of a wide variety of fish and potatoes, along with other ingredients. It is brothy , but not a soup. Traditionally it contains fish and/ or seafood, with potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and onion, in alternating layers. Sometimes, clams are the first layer, giving the broth a wonderful flavour, but also acting as a natural non-stick method, keeping the fish and potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You never stir a caldeirada, instead you shake the pan, back and forth, as to not break up the delicate fish.

Another important feature of a true caldeirada is that the ingredients, such as the onion, are not sauteed first. In Portugal almost all dishes begin with a "refogado", similar to sofrito, which consists of the holy trinity, onions, garlic, and bay, sometimes tomatoes, sauteed in olive oil until lightly caramelised.

This squid version is not as complex. In fact I do start with a refogado in my version and I substitute canned tomatoes that have been rinsed and drained, instead of fresh, (they are not in season), as they are always ripe and sweet. Bonus, they are also already peeled. deseeded and diced. Perfect.

Parsley or coriander work well. My grandmother would use parsley, but finish with mint. What ever you choose it will be delish.

I also recommend using a good quality homemade or store bought fish stock in place of water, for the broth.

Use a crisp, dry white wine, such as Portuguese Vinho Verde, Spanish Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc or a dry sparkling white wine, would also work with this dish.

Nowadays, cleaned squid is available at most supermarket fish counters. Remember if you are buying squid to clean at home, up the weight, stated in recipe, by 50%, as after you clean them alot will be waste.

If buying frozen, Thaw in cold water, takes about 20 minutes and use immediately, or put in the refrigerator 24 hours before.

I like to marinate the squid for 30 minutes before adding to the pot. Use this time to get the rest of your ingredients ready. As always, my optional ingredients are highly recommended, as they are how I prepare the dish and what makes my food stand out from the rest. Of course it will still taste fantastic without them. It is customary to serve a side of white rice, but it is not mandatory. A good quality crusty baguette will be appreciated to mop up all the delicious sauce.

Enjoy xoxo

Caldeirada de Lulas ❦ Portuguese Squid Potato and Bell Pepper Stew

Serves 4

Ready in 1 hour and 30 minutes

1.500 g. Cleaned squid, tubes and tentacles

750 g. Low starch boiling potatoes, such as Maris piper, red potatoes, new potatoes and Fingerling variety potatoes. Peeled and cut into rounds of just over a half of an inch thick. (see photo)

2 Very large onions, brown or white, not red onion, peeled and cut into thin rings

2 Green bell peppers, deseeded, white inner pith removed and cut into strips

1 Red bell pepper, deseeded, white inner pith removed and cut into strips

6 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 Bay leaves

2 Cans (400 g. each) of chopped tomatoes, drained and rinsed. A sieve/ colander is brilliant for this.

1 Red chilli, whole. Optional

350 ml. Hot water, fish stock, homemade or store bought. If using fish stock cubes, dissolve them in 350 ml. of HOT water

250 ml. Dry white wine

120 ml. Extra virgin olive oil, for refogado, plus a drizzle between each layer and to finish.

3 tbsp. Red or white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. Coarse sea salt

2 tsp. Sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp. Ground turmeric, optional

1/2 tsp. Ground ginger, optional

1/2 tsp. Celery salt, optional

1 Large bunch of celery, tied with kitchen twine for easy fishing out later. Reserve a few leaves to chop and scatter before serving.

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Extra salt, to taste, if needed.

  1. In a bowl, place squid, half the garlic, 1 tbsp. coarse sea salt. Mix to combine well. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  2. In a bowl or jug, mix hot water or stock, if using, the vinegar, wine, turmeric, ginger, amd celery salt.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large casserole, preferably cast iron, add extra virgin olive oil and half the onion. Saute on medium heat until onion is translucent. Add garlic and turn heat off. Residual heat will sweat garlic.

  4. Scatter half the peppers to layer on top of onions, half the tomatoes and now top with half the potatoes. In between each layer, drizzle with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper to taste, and tuck in the bay leaves. The next layer is all the squid, and all the marinade, followed by parsley bunch, remaining peppers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and chilli. Give it another good drizzle of olive oil and a few cranks of pepper.

  5. Add hot stock mix.

  6. Drizzle with another good splash of extra virgin olive oil, cover and bring to the boil.

  7. Once boiling, taste and add more salt if needed. Reduce heat and let simmer, on low, for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Every 15 minutes or so, give the pot a shake, gently back and forth. Do not stir.

  8. After 1 hour and 10 minutes, squid and potatoes should be perfectly tender. Discard parsley bundle and bay leaves.

  9. Scatter on chopped parsley leaves, a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil and ladle into bowls with plenty of sauce.



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