Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Zarzuela de Mariscos y Pescado

Zarzuela de Mariscos y Pescado

One of the most popular shellfish (mariscos) and fish (pescado) dishes in Spain, zarzuela is actually the name of an eclectic type of musical theater—think variety show. The dish, believed to have originated in Barcelona more than a century ago, bears the name because it’s best made with a variety of seafood. Cook up your own adventure by choosing shellfish and fish that you like and can find fresh or frozen at your local stores—use the following ingredients as a guide. Picada is used as a traditional flavor enhancer for zarzuela, but the dish will still taste delicious on its own. Serve with crusty bread to soak up every drop.


For the picada:

  • 2 ounces almonds, preferably Marcona
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, loosely packed, then roughly chopped
  • 1 cup day-old bread cubes

For the zarzuela:

  • A few saffron threads
  • 1 cup dry white wine, preferably Spanish
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus
    more for drizzling
  • 12 sea scallops, preferably extra dry (no preservatives added) and wild caught
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 cup seafood broth or clam juice
  • 1 pound cod fillet or other firm white fish, cut into 6 sections
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 dozen littleneck or smaller clams, rinsed, or mussels, rinsed and debearded


Step 1

To make the picada, pound all the ingredients using a mortar and pestle until you get a grainy paste similar to a pesto. If using a food processor instead, use the pulse function to control the thickness. The picada can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge.

Step 2

To make the zarzuela, first soak the saffron in the wine; set aside. Heat a large, deep frying pan or wok over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, then the scallops. Sear the scallops for 1 minute on each side, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate next to the stovetop.

Step 3

To the hot pan, add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper, and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme and pimentón, then deglaze the pan with the saffron-infused wine. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the broth or clam juice, and bring to a low boil; simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 4

Stir in the picada. Add the cod and shrimp to the pan, bring the heat up to medium high, and cover. After 5 minutes, nestle the clams or mussels in the center of the pan, hinged side down. Cover for another 5 minutes or until the shells open, turning up the heat if necessary to create more steam (discard any that don’t open). Return the scallops to the pan just to heat them through, about 2 minutes.

Step 5

Ladle portions into wide deep bowls and drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6