Suquet: a saucy Spanish seafood tradition, by Mara

from Thermomixblogger Helene:  Some time ago this blog received a special request from a reader named Joan who asked for a Thermomix version of the Catalan fish stew known as “Suquet”.  Joan had been seduced by this flavoursome soupy seafood stew while visiting a seaside restaurant near Barcelona. It was a meal so memorable that Joan wanted to recreate it with Thermomix, but could find no suitable recipe in English. She asked me — and I asked Mara. Thank goodness for Joan’s suggestion, and for Mara’s expert adaptation of this classic Spanish recipe that follows.

from Mara — Suquet is a saucy stew or stewy soup, depending on your preference. It’s comprised of four parts: 1) the picada (traditionally made with mortar and pestle) combines fried bread, fried almonds, garlic and parsley or pimentón, (Spanish smoked paprika), 2) the fumet is a concentrated stock (in this case, fish), and 3) a sofrito sauce used as base, normally using olive oil, garlic, onion and pepper, sometimes tomato (think of the French mirepoix or the Italian soffritto). 4) The suquet comes together when the first three components meld with additional seafood and potatoes.

There are as many recipes to this dish as there are households. Basically you need a firm fish that stands well to longer cooking times. Monkfish is ideal because of its flavor, but cod or any other firm fleshed white fish will do. Besides that, it calls for shellfish, mollusks and some more delicate white fish that are added at the very end, I use the Varoma because I find it’s ideal for this purpose and most efficient. Normally I would have used mussels and red mullet but I couldn’t find any, so this time I’ve done it with cockles and hake. Again, it’s up to the cook. This recipe yields 6 portions, I’d say they’re generous but I don’t know how much people eat… I have to say I heard lots of Mmmmmmmmms…. when this was served.

Although a four-part recipe appears might be daunting to some, the picada, fumet, and sofrito can be done well ahead and kept refrigerated or even frozen. I love the fumet, it’s the same I use whenever I make paella or fideuá and I think it’s key to get a flavorful dish. To get a really good stock it’s important that the prawns are good, but it’s ok if they’re frozen — yes really. Just make sure they have the shells and, most especially, the heads on!

Spanish Seafood Stew Recipe for Thermomix (serves 6)

Step 1:  Picada — can be prepared in advance

10 g olive oil
1 clove garlic
20 g dry bread (not sure what it’s called in English but in Spain we call it “asentado” and in France “rassis”, it’s just bread that’s one or 2 days old)
40 g blanched almonds
2 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves only (we’ll use the stems later, for the fumet)

  • Put all ingredients into Thermomix bowl except for the parsley leaves and cook 4 minutes/Varoma/speed 4.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl in a second with your super spatula, add parsley leaves and blitz for 30 seconds/speed 10. You might have to stop once to scrape it all down again. Set aside for later.

step 2:  Fumet (prawn stock) — can be prepared in advance

500 g prawns, heads and shells on
700 g water
parsley stems, reserved from the picada

  • Set aside 6 prawns for garnish.
  • Peel the remaining prawns, putting shells and heads in Thermomix bowl along with the water and parsley stems. Set aside the bodies/flesh of the prawns for later. Cook 10 minutes/Varoma/speed 4. Strain well through a fine-mesh sieve while applying pressure, to extract as much flavor and stock as possible. Discard shells. Set fumet aside for later and rinse the bowl thoroughly to get rid of any shell pieces.

step 3 & 4:  Sofrito and Suquet

ingredients for sofrito

1 clove garlic
20 g olive oil (EVOO)
50 g onion
30 g capsicum/green pepper
50 g pureed tomatoes

for the Suquet

1 bay leaf
3 large potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise
500 g monkfish, in pieces
500 g cockles (or mussels, clams…)
360 g hake, cut into 6 fillets
Optional, chopped parsley leaves for garnish

Method for sofrito and Suquet

  • Put all sofrito ingredients in Thermomix bowl and chop for 3 seconds/speed 4½. Scrape down the sides and cook 10 minutes/Varoma/speed 2.
  • Add 200 grams of the fumet and the picada and blitz for 15 seconds/speed 10 until you get a very fine purée.
  • Scrape purée down from sides of the bowl and lid, set the butterfly in place and add the potato wedges, the rest of the fumet and the bay leaf. Cook 15 minutes/100C/REVERSE/soft stir.
  • Meanwhile, prepare for the next step by placing cockles in the lower Varoma.  Put hake and 6 reserved prawns on the top tray of the Varoma. When the 15 minutes of reverse cooking has completed, add the monkfish to the bowl and put the Varoma in place. Cook 11 minutes/Varoma/REVERSE/soft stir.
  • When the Thermomix sings telling you she’s done, carefully remove the Varoma tray and place it on top of the serving dish to collect all the beautiful seafood juices. Open the Thermomix and add the reserved prawn bodies to the bowl, make them sink into the stew and let steep for 2 minutes.
  •  Season if needed (I didn’t add any salt) and serve immediately. You can either serve it in a big dish where you’ll pour the stew and top it with all the seafood from the Varoma or divide into 6 plates. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired. Usually this is served along toasted bread and aioli but we’ll leave the aioli recipe for some other time…

A note about the picada:  This picada is really simple and freezes well, so you can easily make a double batch (just add a couple minutes of cooking time). Store and use as needed to add  “spanish flair” to other recipes. Used for flavor but also for texture,  it’s one of those staples in Spanish cuisine, like the sofrito, which are used for almost anything. I like using it for meat stews.  Sorry there is no photo, but as I had prepared it in advance I totally forgot to take a picture. (It looks a bit like a pâte sablée with specks of parsley.)

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See 12 comments from people who cook with Thermomix:

  1. Mara May 10, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    I just noticed that I didn’t mention that, if using frozen prawns, they should be defrosted first ;D
    Also, there was plenty of space left both in the Varoma dish and Varoma tray, so feel free to add more mollusks, fish or shellfish if you want to.

  2. Nora May 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    This looks wonderful Mara! I can almost smell the taste of the sea just by looking at this plate!

  3. ThermomixBlogger Helene May 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Oh Nora, I KNOW what you mean! I can smell it too! Love this recipe. Love Mara too ;-) xoxo

  4. Mara May 11, 2012 at 4:49 am #

    Thank you Nora, it’s really a beautiful dish.
    Thanks for loving me Helene!!!!

  5. franca May 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Hi Mara
    we are heading to Madrid in a month’s time and want to buy a thermomix when we are there- do you sell them or know someone who does?

  6. ThermomixBlogger Helene May 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Hi Franca – I won’t speak for Mara, but just want to remind you and all the readers here that it’s never recommended to buy a Thermomix outside your own country. The consultants in your country will be there to support you should you need help and in the rare occurrence that something might happen to your machine and it needs service from the distributor.

  7. Mara May 30, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Hello Franca, I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment before. I don’t sell the Thermomix anymore, only sold it in Chile and unfortunately I don’t know any. But I’m with Helene in this one, I think it’s better to buy it in your own country (unless you already have one and this is the 2nd one!)

  8. Rosa Kullstrom May 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Buy you Thermomix in your country to avoid any problems in future. Buy a new one so you get all the garantie avalable….. trust me

  9. ThermomixBlogger Helene June 7, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Thanks Rosa!

  10. Mike Shanahan May 16, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Hi Mara…How much Smoky Paprika do I add and at what point in your recipe?

  11. Mara May 17, 2016 at 1:14 am #

    Hello Mike, I don’t use pimentón in suquet but follow your taste buds. If using, I’d probably add it by the end of the Sofrito step or just a sprinkle on top of the seafood alongside a good slush of olive oil as garnish just before serving. as for the amount that would as for the amount that would depend on the quality and as for the amount that will depend on the quality and age of your spice, but I’d go easy on it, can be overpowering.

  12. Mara May 17, 2016 at 1:19 am #

    I don’t use it normally but, other than a small pinch on your picada (when blitzing the whole thing) you could add a tiny bit by the end of the sofrito step (for the last 60-90 seconds) or as a garnish, sprinkling it atop the seafood just before serving.