Cataplana With Mussels And Shrimp

Cataplana is the Portuguese version of what in France is called bouillabaisse, in Spain zarzuela, and in Italy cioppino. With regional differences, of course. The only restaurant I’ve ever found it was at La Cote Brasserie in its early days. They took it off the menu, so I had to do some research to develop my own slightly Creolized recipe, which pleased me. (If only my family were more adventuresome.)


  • 1/2 lb. chorizo sausage
  • 4-5 oz. tasso
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel (or celery)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-oz. can whole Italian tomatoes
  • 6 dozen mussels in the shell, scrubbed and debearded if necessary (probably not)
  • 2 lbs. 21-25 count (jumbo) shrimp in shell
  • 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the chorizo and the tasso until the chorizo is cooked. Drain on paper towels and pour off any excess fat.

    2. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onions, fennel, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Cook until the onions are transparent. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Let the skillet simmer for about five minutes.

    3. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in a food processor, and add it and all the juice from the can (remove the basil leaf) to the skillet. Bring the skillet to a boil, stir, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add the chorizo and the tasso, cover the skillet and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then.

    4. Place about one and a half cups of the sauce into a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. When the sauce begins to boil, add the shrimp and the mussels into the pot and cover with the remaining sauce, plus about 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pot and simmer for 12-14 minutes.

  • Rouille:
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree

5. While waiting, make the rouille. Puree the garlic in a food processor or a mortar and pestle. Whisk the egg yolks, salt and Tabasco in a bowl until the mixture begins to turn fluffy. Add the olive oil a few drops at a time while whisking. When the mixture begins to thicken, you can begin adding the oil a bit faster, but never more than a thin stream. When all the oil is whisked in, add the tomato puree and whisk. Taste the rouille, and add cayenne to taste.

6. Open the pot and stir the contents mussels around. Put the top back on and cook another few minutes. Any mussels that have not opened should be removed and discarded.

7. Divide the mussels and shrimp among large bowls. Add the parsley to the sauce and stir the sauce to blend. Add salt if necessary to taste. Spoon the sauce over the mussels and shrimp. Serve the rouille either on croutons or right into the middle of the bowl.

Serve with extra bowls for the shells and extra napkins. White wine is a must with this.

Serves eight.