A visit to Zarzuela Spanish-Mediterranean Restaurant in downtown Marshall is definitely a treat. Tastes and smells are a sensation. Over the next few weeks, we will share with you some of the sensations we experienced. Take our word for it though: You'll want to experience it personally!

For chef Rick Wilson, it's all about the food. Not only did he take us behind the scenes and show us how he makes Zarzuela's signature dish — Zarzuela Stew — he even shared the recipe with us, so we could share it with you.

Check out our visit in the video below, then make plans to taste Zarzuela Stew for yourself!

RECIPE: Zarzuela de Mariscos (Zarzuela Stew)

This excellent seafood stew comes from the Catalan coast of northeast Spain. Zarzuela means "operetta," or "variety show," and perfectly describes the sing-song versatility of this dish. The greater the variety of seafood you add to this dish, the better its flavor will be.

Ingredients:

(4 to 6 servings)

  • Fish and shellfish (see variations), cleaned and prepared -- 2 pounds
  • Olive oil -- 1/4 cup
  • Onion, minced -- 1
  • Red, green or yellow bell peppers, small dice -- 2
  • Garlic, minced -- 3-5 cloves
  • Serrano ham or prosciutto (optional), sliced into thin strips -- 1/4 cup
  • Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced -- 3 to 4 cups
  • Almonds, ground in a spice grinder or food processor -- 1/2 cup
  • Bay leaf -- 1
  • Saffron -- pinch
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • White wine -- 1 cup
  • Water or stock -- 3 cups
  • Lemon juice -- 1 tablespoon
  • Parsley, minced -- 2 to 3 tablespoons

Method:

  1. Clean and prepare your fish and shellfish as directed below. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sauté until onion turns translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, ground almonds, bay leaf, saffron and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to marry the flavors and reduce the liquid somewhat.
  4. Add the wine and simmer to reduce its volume by about half. Then add the water or stock, lemon juice and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  5. Add the fish and seafood to the stew. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until everything is cooked through. Do not overcook. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Variations

  • Use whatever fresh fish and seafood is available. Any firm, white-fleshed fish, cut into large chunks, is a good base. Other possible additions include calamari, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, crab, lobster and crayfish.
  • Add a pinch of thyme or rosemary if you like.
  • Add a dash of anise liqueur to perk up the flavor.
  • If both Serrano ham and prosciutto are unavailable, use a good quality cured ham.
  • Substitute hazelnuts for the almonds.

Notes

  • The recipe can be completed through step 4 and stored refrigerated. Bring back to a simmer and add the fish and seafood just before serving. The stew base will actually improve in flavor.