Basque Seafood Stew

Prawn and fish stew
Sarka Babicka/Moment Open/Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

This is a rich and satisfying seafood stew that originates in the Basque country -- in the Pyrenees and on the Atlantic coast at the border of Spain and France. What makes this stew special is a combination of seafood, both hot and sweet paprika and a combination of herbs. Good fish stock is important to this recipe, but you could sub in chicken stock or water. We use baby octopus, striped bass, shrimp, and baby scallops in this version, but mussels, crabmeat, any type of firm fish, or really any other seafood will do -- just be sure to have a variety. 


  • 1 pound baby octopus
  • 1 pound fish (a firm white fish such as sea bass)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions (chopped)
  • 2 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika (or Espelette pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 wineglass white wine (dry)
  • 1 quart fish stock (or chicken or water)
  • 5 plum tomatoes (chopped and seeded)
  • 6 sage leaves (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary (fresh, chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (fresh, chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon basil (chopped)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Cut the octopi into large pieces. Slice the fish into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Peel the shrimp and wash the scallops. Toss each of them with some salt and set aside -- separately.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stew pot over medium-high heat for a minute or two, then add the onion and celery. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the green and red bell peppers and the baby octopus.

  3. Saute the octopus, peppers, and onion for a minute or two, then add the garlic and mix well. Cook for 1 minute, then turn the heat up to high and add the white wine.

  4. Mix well, and add both types of paprika and mix again. Let the mixture boil fiercely until half the wine is cooked away.

  5. Add the chopped sage and rosemary, then the fish stock. stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let this cook for 35 to 40 minutes.

  6. Test for salt and add if needed. Test a piece of octopus: If it is tender, proceed. If not, cook a bit longer.

  7. Once the octopus is tender, add the tomatoes, the shrimp, fish, and scallops, then add half the parsley. Cook this at a simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.

  8. Add the rest of the parsley and the basil. Stir to combine and serve.

This stew really rises to the occasion with some good-quality crusty bread and a good white wine. A perfect choice would be a Spanish or California Albarino, but a verdelho, pinot grigio, dry riesling or Italian grillo would all be excellent, as would a Greek assyrtiko. If you are a beer drinker, a light Belgian ale would be nice, too