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Brothy Fish Stew with Shrimp, Rice, and Pesto Paste

(Arroz Caldoso de Pescado)

Written By: Byron | March 18, 2024
A bowl of brothy fish stew topped with some almond pesto and pan-fried shrimp.

Brothy fish stew with shrimp, rice, and pesto paste is a classic rice dish that combines a rich and flavorsome sofrito sauce, rice, white fish and shrimp drizzled with a rich pesto paste. The recipe combines chunks of white fish simmered in a classic sofrito sauce and then topped with pan-fried shrimp. The stew is then topped with a crunchy almond pesto and garnished with plenty of fresh parsley. 

This fish stew recipe is a filling main meal and is ideal when you are looking to impress at your next dinner party. As it is a stew, it can be made in one pot and takes around 1 hour to make from start to finish. This recipe serves 6 as a hearty meal and can be stretched out to serve 8 when accompanied by plenty of fresh bread.

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Serving:

Main for 6

Ready in:

1 hour

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Good on its own.

Watch step-by-step recipe video

If you’re looking for this recipe’s video and many other great recipe ideas, why not check out our Spanish Radish YouTube Channel? We’ve got everything from quick and easy tapas recipes to delicious main meals, to incredible Spanish dessert options too.

How to Make Brothy Fish Stew with Shrimp, Rice, and Pesto 

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. (400 grams) Bomba rice
  • 31 oz. (900 grams) white fish ( cod, monkfish, or similar)
  • 10 large raw shrimp, head and shell removed and cleaned 
  • 2 quarts/liters of fish stock
  • 1 onion, diced fine
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 7 fl oz. (200ml)  tomato paste
  • 1 medium-sized red pepper, diced fine
  • 2 Italian green peppers, diced fine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup almonds (we used blanched almonds)
  • 10 threads of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon La Dalia Spanish sweet paprika 
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Handful of fresh parsley 

Equipment needed

a plate of cod fish sits beside vegetables, shrimp, almonds, fresh herbs, and spices.

Method

Prepare the fish stock 

NOTE: If using store-bought stock, simply preheat it before use and skip this step. 

  • Set a large pot on the stove with 2 quarts/ liters of water. Peel the shrimp and prepare the veggies. 
  • Add the shrimp heads and any shells plus any of the veg ends, onions shells, etc. 
  • Add some parsley, one bay leaf, and season with a teaspoon of salt. If there are any fish heads or bones, add those too.
  • Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for around 20-30 minutes. 

Make Pesto Paste

  • Add about half of the parsley leaves (half a handful), half of the saffron (5 strands), 2 cloves of garlic, the almonds, and 3 tbsp olive oil to a mortar and crush until a paste (add a splash more oil if the paste looks too dry).

Prepare the Fish and shrimp

  • Rinse the de-headed shrimp in clean water and pat dry with some paper kitchen towel.
  • Cut your fish into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes and set aside. 
  • On medium-high heat in your large pot, fry the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side until they color and become opaque. Once cooked, set aside with the fish for use later. 

Prepare the Sofrito Sauce

  • Add a splash of oil to the same pot used to cook the prawns and fish. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, then add the remaining crushed garlic (2 cloves) and cook until fragrant (around 1 minute). 
  • Once the onion is golden, add the red and green pepper, tomato paste, paprika, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer covered for around 20-30 minutes until the veg softens, stirring every 5 minutes.

Add the Rice and Fish 

  • The fish stock should have had enough time to be fragrant and should be rich. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
  • Next, add the rice to the sofrito and half a glass of white wine. Sauté for a few minutes then increase heat to high for 1 minute (this helps evaporate the alcohol). 
  • Ladle the fish stock into the sofrito pot and add the remaining saffron threads. 
  • Add the fish chunks, mix well, and reduce heat to medium. 
  • Simmer on medium-low heat for 18 minutes (see cooking notes on bomba rice cooking times). 
  • Before serving, check the rice is cooked al dente (see cooking notes below).

Serve

  • To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and top with a tablespoon of the paste and 2 cooked shrimp. Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and season to taste with some salt and cracked black pepper.

Cooking Notes:

Cooking time for Bomba rice

Bomba rice expands a lot during the cooking process and requires a lot of liquid. Use a ration of 2.5:1 (2.5 cups stock for every cup of bomba rice).

Cooking time for Bomba rice is longer than that of normal rice. Cook bomba rice for 18 minutes for al dente. Remember it will continue to cook while still in the pot.

 

Fish stock

We prefer to make our own fish stock and use the discarded fish bones, shrimp heads, and shells to build the stock. We also use the leftover veg ends from the garlic, onion, and peppers. Of course, if you are short on time, store-bought fish stock will work, just use low-sodium fish stock. 

 

Sofrito sauce

Sofrito is best when it is left to simmer down over a long period of time. 20 minutes is the minimum time, but it will shine in flavor if you can slowly simmer over an hour. Sofrito can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you are short on time, ready-made sofrito sauce is available in most leading supermarkets or online stores.

    A bowl of brothy fish stew topped with some almond pesto and pan-fried shrimp.

    Spanish Brothy Fish Stew (Arroz Caldoso de Pescado)

    There are numerous variations of fish stew in Spanish cuisine that embrace different types of fish. This recipe is loosely based on a traditional recipe that uses monkfish called Rape en arroz caldoso. Monkfish is called ‘rape’ in Spanish and ‘caldoso’ translates to brothy.

    Rape en arroz caldoso uses the flavorsome monkfish tail for the meat, and uses the head and bones to build the fish stock. It then is cooked down in a sofrito sauce and stock with lots of Bomba rice. 

    More Fish and Seafood Stew Recipes:

    A bowl of brothy fish stew topped with some almond pesto and pan-fried shrimp.

    Best Fish to Use for This Fish Stew

    Any thick fillets of white fish work well for this recipe. We used chunky fillets of cod, but you could use monkfish, bass, grouper, haddock, catfish, or snapper. Aim for fillets that are at least an inch/2.5cm thick or larger. 

    If using bacalao, ensure you have prepared it correctly as there are a few different types of bacalao: Salted and Fresh. 

    Fresh bacalao (cod fish) is found in the fresh fish section of any supermarket or fishmonger. It can be prepared as you would any other type of fresh white fish. Salted bacalao, as the name suggests, are large cod fillets that have been dehydrated and dried with salt. The fillets are quite distinctive as they have a salt crust over the flesh and do not require refrigeration. Salted cod fillets need to be rehydrated in water before they can be used in cooking.

    How to Prepare Salted cod (Dried Bacalao) Fillets

    1. Rinse the salted cod thoroughly under cold fresh water and gently rub the surface to remove any large flakes of salt.
    2. Place salted cod in a large container of fresh water and soak it for at least 24 hours (fillets thicker than 1 inch (2.5cm) will require around 30-35 hours). Be sure to change the water several times during soaking.
    3. Remove the fillet from the water and rinse thoroughly.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    This fish stew recipe uses fairly straightforward ingredients and most can be picked up at any local supermarket. The one item that may be difficult to source is Bomba rice, which can be purchased from specialty Spanish supermarkets or online at stores such as Amazon. If you can’t source Spanish bomba rice, substitute it for other types of short-grain rice such as Italian Ariborio rice. 

    What is Bomba rice? 

    Bomba is a white short-grain rice that hails from the Valencia region of Spain. It is most commonly used in famous rice dishes such as Paella, arroz al horno, arroz a banda to name a few. 

    Check out more of our paella and rice recipes here.

    Bomba rice is prized for its ability to absorb liquid and almost doubles in size when cooked in  a typical Spanish rice recipe such as paella. Once cooked, bomba rice remains firm and is not gluggy like other rice types. It absorbs all of the flavors it is cooked in, making it ideal for stew recipes or dishes that use the absorption method for cooking. 

    Bacalao (Cod fish)

    Bacalao is simply the Spanish term for codfish and there are two types commonly found in Spain; Salted cod and fresh cod fillets. Any decent fishmonger will stock cod fish and ask for the freshest catch available. When sold in fillets, the skin will be scaled and still attached. It is up to you if you prefer to remove it. We keep the skin on as it helps add to the flavor and also keeps the fish cubes together while cooking. 

    This recipe will work well with any type of white fish, as long as the fillets are at least an inch/2.5 cm thick. Fish that are more meaty tend to work best as the fish pieces don’t flake apart as easily. We often use monkfish tail for this recipe and it’s a delicious alternative and works great.

    Fish stock

    For best results make your own fish stock with any fish bones or shrimp shells you have on hand. You can easily prepare the stock in around 30 minutes or it can be made as you prepare this recipe. Veg ends can also go into the stock to add flavor. Season to taste with some salt, add a bay leaf or two, and you’re good to go. 

    If you don’t have time to make your own fish stock, store-bought fish stock is a convenient option. Be sure to use low-sodium fish stock. 

    Sofrito

    Sofrito is a type of sauce that is made by sauteeing down vegetables in cooking oil over a low heat for a long period of time (anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours). It is very common in Spanish cuisine and can be found in various forms in many dishes. It is also available in tinned versions that can be used straight from the tin, but of course, the homemade version always tastes best (and you can moderate the amount of salt used). 

    In Spanish cuisine, Sofrito is typically made with onion, garlic, red pepper, and green pepper. In other Mediterranean countries, other vegetables may also be added. 

    White Wine

    Simple cooking white wine will do for this recipe, or dry wine. There is no need to use Spanish wine specifically, nor does the wine need to have a high alcohol content. The alcohol content will evaporate while cooking. If you prefer not to use wine in cooking, substitute it for some of the fish stock.

    Nutrition Facts 

    Serving size: 300g

    Servings: 8

    Amount per serving

     

    Calories

    410

    % Daily Value*

    Total Fat 9.4g

    12%

    Saturated Fat 1.1g

    6%

    Cholesterol 115mg

    38%

    Sodium 357mg

    16%

    Total Carbohydrate 45.8g

    17%

    Dietary Fiber 2.4g

    9%

    Total Sugars 3.7g

     

    Protein 34.1g

     

    Vitamin D 0mcg

    0%

    Calcium 23mg

    2%

    Iron 2mg

    11%

    Potassium 316mg

    7%

    *The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

    A bowl of brothy fish stew topped with some almond pesto and pan-fried shrimp.
    A bowl of brothy fish stew topped with some almond pesto and pan-fried shrimp.

    Brothy Fish Stew with Shrimp, Rice, and Pesto Paste (Arroz Caldoso de Pescado)

    Byron
    Brothy fish stew with shrimp, rice, and pesto paste is a classic rice dish that combines a rich and flavorsome sofrito sauce, rice, white fish and shrimp drizzled with a rich pesto paste.
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour
    Course Main Course, seafood, stew
    Cuisine Authentic Spanish recipe, Mediterranean, Spain
    Servings 6 Main
    Calories 410 kcal

    Equipment

    • 1 medium pot for the fish stock
    • 1 large pot with lid for the fish stew
    • Large spoon or ladle
    • sieve
    • Paper towel
    • Sharp kitchen knife and Cutting board
    • Mortar and pestle

    Ingredients

    • 14 oz. 400 grams Bomba rice
    • 31 oz. 900 grams white fish ( cod, monkfish, or similar)
    • 10 large raw shrimp head and shell removed and cleaned
    • 2 quarts/liters of fish stock
    • 1 onion diced fine
    • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
    • 7 fl oz. 200ml tomato paste
    • 1 medium-sized red pepper diced fine
    • 2 Italian green peppers diced fine
    • 2 bay leaves
    • ½ cup almonds we used blanched almonds
    • 10 threads of saffron
    • 1 teaspoon La Dalia Spanish sweet paprika
    • ½ cup white wine
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Handful of fresh parsley

    Instructions
     

    Prepare the fish stock

    • NOTE: If using store-bought stock, simply preheat it before use and skip this step.
      2 quarts/liters of fish stock
    • Set a large pot on the stove with 2 quarts/ liters of water. Peel the shrimp and prepare the veggies.
    • Add the shrimp heads and any shells plus any of the veg ends, onions shells, etc.
    • Add some parsley, one bay leaf, and season with a teaspoon of salt. If there are any fish heads or bones, add those too.
      4 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 10 threads of saffron, Handful of fresh parsley, Salt and pepper
    • Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for around 20-30 minutes.

    Make Pesto Paste

    • Add about half of the parsley leaves (half a handful), half of the saffron (5 strands), 2 cloves of garlic, the almonds, and 3 tbsp olive oil to a mortar and crush until a paste (add a splash more oil if the paste looks too dry).
      4 cloves of garlic, ½ cup almonds, 10 threads of saffron, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, Handful of fresh parsley

    Prepare the Fish and shrimp

    • Rinse the de-headed shrimp in clean water and pat dry with some paper kitchen towel.
      10 large raw shrimp
    • Cut your fish into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes and set aside.
      31 oz. 900 grams white fish ( cod, monkfish, or similar)
    • On medium-high heat in your large pot, fry the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side until they color and become opaque. Once cooked, set aside with the fish for use later.

    Prepare the Sofrito Sauce

    • Add a splash of oil to the same pot used to cook the prawns and fish. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, then add the remaining crushed garlic (2 cloves) and cook until fragrant (around 1 minute).
      1 onion
    • Once the onion is golden, add the red and green pepper, tomato paste, paprika, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer covered for around 20-30 minutes until the veg softens, stirring every 5 minutes.
      7 fl oz., 1 medium-sized red pepper, 2 Italian green peppers, 1 teaspoon La Dalia Spanish sweet paprika

    Add the Rice and Fish

    • Next, add the rice to the sofrito and half a glass of white wine. Sauté for a few minutes then increase heat to high for 1 minute (this helps evaporate the alcohol).
      14 oz. 400 grams Bomba rice, ½ cup white wine
    • Ladle the fish stock into the sofrito pot and add the remaining saffron threads.
    • Add the fish chunks, mix well, and reduce heat to medium.
    • Simmer on medium-low heat for 18 minutes (see cooking notes on bomba rice cooking times).
    • Before serving, check the rice is cooked al dente (see cooking notes below).

    Serve

    • To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and top with a tablespoon of the paste and 2 cooked shrimp. Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and season to taste with some salt and cracked black pepper.

    Video

    Notes

    Cooking Notes:

    Cooking time for Bomba rice
    Bomba rice expands a lot during the cooking process and requires a lot of liquid. Use a ration of 2.5:1 (2.5 cups stock for every cup of bomba rice).
    Cooking time for Bomba rice is longer than that of normal rice. Cook bomba rice for 18 minutes for al dente. Remember it will continue to cook while still in the pot.
    Fish stock
    We prefer to make our own fish stock and use the discarded fish bones, shrimp heads, and shells to build the stock. We also use the leftover veg ends from the garlic, onion, and peppers. Of course, if you are short on time, store-bought fish stock will work, just use low-sodium fish stock. 
    Sofrito sauce
    Sofrito is best when it is left to simmer down over a long period of time. 20 minutes is the minimum time, but it will shine in flavor if you can slowly simmer over an hour. Sofrito can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you are short on time, ready-made sofrito sauce is available in most leading supermarkets or online stores.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 300gCalories: 410kcalCarbohydrates: 45.8gProtein: 34.1gFat: 9.4gSaturated Fat: 1.1gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 357mgPotassium: 316mgFiber: 2.4gSugar: 3.7gCalcium: 23mgIron: 2mg
    Keyword 1 hours recipe, bacalao, Bomba rice, codfish, Fish stew, one-pot, Rice stew, shrimp

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