Arroz de Marisco - Portuguese Seafood Rice

Arroz de Marisco - Portuguese Seafood Rice

This recipe has several steps and does take a bit of time to put together, but is so worth the extra effort. Making the stock base with the fried prawn heads is crucial to the taste profile of this dish. Budget about 3.5 hours to make this dish in a relaxed and leisurely fashion- from chopping and prep to cooking through the steps. Read through the ingredient list, set everything you need out/store what you don't need for a while in the fridge (seafood) and go over the instructions to familiarise yourself with the steps. I do hope you enjoy making this dish.

  • 12-16 large prawns, deveined and shell on, heads chopped and kept aside
  • 300 g fresh mussels, cleaned
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1-2 t chilli pepper flakes
  • 4-5 Mediterranean Delicacies anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 300 g firm white fish (e.g. gurnard, dorado or kingklip)
  • 1/3 cup Italian flat leaf parsley or coriander (or mix) finely chopped
  • extra lemon wedges
  • For the stock base:
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 12-16 prawn heads
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 T finely diced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 410 g fresh ripe tomatoes or a can peeled and chopped Italian tomatoes (best quality), pureed
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1.5 cups seasoned water, plus extra if needed
  • 1.5 cups liquid from steaming mussels
  • 2 mild red chilli's, chopped
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
  • For the rice:
  • 1.5 cups short- medium grain rice (I used arborio in this recipe)
  • strained stock, plus extra water (if needed)
  • 410 g can chopped, peeled and pureed Italian tomatoes (best quality) -add 1/2 t sugar
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine


1. Tap the mussels a few times. Discard those that are still open. Steam cleaned, de-beared mussels in 2 cups water. Bring to the boil and lower down to a simmer- process shouldn't take longer than 4- 5 minutes. Discard those that don't open. Retain 1.5 cups of the steaming liquid (add more if necessary but not too much as the liquid released by the mussels will become diluted)

2. In a frying pan on medium heat, add prawn heads, carrot, chopped onions and garlic. Fry for 4 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and blend in processor or with hand held blender until smooth. 

3. To a large pot add the ground prawn mixture, chopped onions, garlic, bay leaves, 1 can or 410 g tomato, sugar, mild chillis, 1.5 cup mussel liquid, 1.5 cup water, lemon juice and salt. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes. Then lower heat slightly and cook for 40 minutes, stirring.

4. Set stock aside, it will have reduced by more than half. Strain through a sieve, pushing the onions and other soft bits through, a little. Don't force them.

5. In a paella pan or large, deep frying pan add the rice on medium heat. Then ladle the hot stock, bit by bit until it has absorbed, the way you would with risotto. Keep stirring the rice. I prefer to alternate hot stock with wine and the tomato puree until it is all absorbed. Add the chopped anchovies and chilli pepper after the first 5 minutes. [The total process should take around 40 minutes.]

6. When the rice is 3/4 cooked, add the green pepper. The fish will take 6-8 minutes to cook and the prawns 5 minutes, so time this accordingly. You add the seafood directly to the rice and stir around gently, once or twice with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to break the fish up.

7. Switch heat off and add the mussels at the end, adjust seasoning and allow the mussels to infuse with the flavour for 15-20 minutes before serving.

8. Add more water if the rice is too stodgy, stirring carefully. Stir the herbs through. Serve with lemon wedges and cold beers or lemonade. This dish will continue to deepen in flavour over the next two days. Store in the fridge when it cools.

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