CN&CO’s admin goddess Penny Hickinbotham is a keen entertainer and a mighty fine cook. One of her favourite dishes is seafood cataplana, which she learnt to make in Portugal. Here’s her once-secret recipe:


Lisbon sauce

  • 1 charred red pepper, peeled and seeded
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Stew base

  • 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped and seeded
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 2 Portuguese chorizos, sliced
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/8 + ¼ + ¼ cup olive oil (you’ll need to add these separately)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of fresh chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt

Additional ingredients

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 500g mussels
  • 500g clams
  • 1kg calamari steak, chopped, or calamari tubes or rings
  • 250g scallops (optional)
  • ½ onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 500g prawns, shelled with tails intact
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup shop-bought tomato sauce
  • 4 fillets sea bass or kabeljou
  • Chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • Salt


Lisbon sauce

  1. Add red pepper, garlic, olive oil and salt to a blender and puree. Set aside.

Stew base

  1. Remove sausage from casing and slice. Fry in 1/8 cup olive oil until slightly caramelised, remove chorizo from pot (set aside) and reserve cooking oil.
  2. Add additional ¼ cup of olive oil to the pan. Add tomatoes and sauté on high heat until tomatoes have softened – about 3 minutes. Add salt if desired. Add onions and another ¼ cup olive oil and salt to taste. Cook onions for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add chorizo, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes and chicken stock and reduce by half on high heat for about 7-8 minutes. The consistency should be chunky. Remove bay leaves and turn off heat.

Assemble the dish

  1. Heat cataplana pot on stove top (medium flame), add oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, and sauté for 1 minute. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
  2. Add mussels and clams first, followed by calamari. Add the onion and top with the Lisbon sauce, white wine, stew base, salt lightly, and stir to combine. Add tomato sauce.
  3. After stirring, top stew with fish. Top with fresh parsley. Put cataplana on high heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add prawns and lemon wedges. Close the cataplana let it stew for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Serve with crusty bread.

Bom proveito!