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Seafood with Romesco Sauce

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 to 6

Garlicky romesco sauce is best known in Catalonia as an accompaniment to grilled calçots (fat spring onions) or snails, but it is also wonderful with seafood. Its namesake chile—the romesco—is nearly impossible to buy in the U.S., so this version calls for easier-to-find substitutions.


  • 1 dozen medium clams
  • 3 dried ñora or ancho chiles
  • 1 fresh lobster (about 2 lb.), steamed (ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil; more as needed
  • 1-1/2 lb. skinless, boneless monkfish, sea bass, or other firm whitefish, cut into 1-inch-thick fillets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 large shrimp (31 to 35 per lb.), unpeeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded, and grated
  • 30 toasted, skinned hazelnuts or almonds or a combination
  • 1 thin slice baguette (about 1 oz.), toasted, or two plain crackers, such as saltines
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. sweet pimentón (smoked paprika)
  • 1 cup fish or seafood stock
  • Crusty bread, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 360
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 140
  • Fat (g): 15
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9
  • Cholesterol (mg): 135
  • Sodium (mg): 900
  • Carbohydrates (g): 17
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Protein (g): 39


  • Clean the clams by soaking them in a large bowl of well-salted water in the refrigerator, changing the water occasionally until no sand appears at the bottom of the bowl, 2 to 3 hours. Remove the clams from the refrigerator and soak in fresh water for about 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Stem and seed the chiles, place in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak for 30 minutes; drain. Using a small spoon, scrape out all of the soft pulp from inside the skins and reserve. Discard the skins.
  • Separate the tail, claws, and knuckles from the body of the lobster; discard the body. Cut the tail in half lengthwise, leaving the meat attached to the shell. Set aside.
  • In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 1/4 cup water to a boil over high heat. Add the clams, cover, and steam until the clams open, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave in the pot, covered, until ready to use.
  • Heat the oil in a 12-1/2-inch cassola (on a heat diffuser if recommended by the manufacturer) over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Put the flour on a plate and season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. When the oil begins to shimmer, dredge the fish one piece at a time in the flour and cook, in batches if necessary, turning once, until golden on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed. Transfer to a platter.
  • Add the shrimp and cook until just opaque, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the platter. If necessary, remove any shrimp legs from the cassola. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small dish and set aside.
  • Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently and then tapping down the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon until thickened and darker, 10 to 15 minutes, adding a little water as necessary to keep it from drying out and sticking.
  • Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves, nuts, toasted bread, and parsley into a fine paste. Loosen with 1 to 2 Tbs. of liquid from the clams. (Alternatively, grind in a food processor using short pulses, adding clam liquid as needed.) Add the reserved chile pulp and mix to combine.
  • When the tomato mixture is ready, sprinkle it with the pimentón, stir, and then add 1/2 cup of the fish stock. Stir in the garlic mixture, making sure it is completely incorporated into the stock with no lumps.
  • Remove the clams from their liquid (reserve the liquid) and add to the cassola, along with the fish, shrimp, and lobster. Add the remaining 1/2 cup fish stock and bring to a simmer. Without breaking the fish fillets, spoon the sauce over them. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and cook until the fish is opaque throughout and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. The sauce should be fluid but not watery. Add a bit of the reserved clam liquid if needed.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve from the cassola with the bread and lemon wedges.


A cassola is a traditional Catalan shallow terra-cotta casserole dish. When shopping for one anywhere outside of Catalonia, you’ll most likely see it called by its Spanish name, cazuela.  Some manufacturers recommend using a heat diffuser to protect the cassola from direct flame and help the food cook more evenly. If you don’t have a cassola, you can use a 12-inch-wide heavy-duty Dutch oven or straight-sided skillet instead.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • wordofmouth | 01/22/2018

    I made this dish last night for a Seafood Sunday dinner. There's a lot of process here but it's well worth the effort. I was a little rushed with the almond/garlic paste and it came out chunkier than I would have liked but still delicious and easy to fix next time by either pre-making or using a food processor. The only change I'd make it to add the s+p to the sauce before you add in the clams and fish as it's difficult to mix the sauce once everything is added (I didn't have a cassola so I used an iron skillet). Also, cooking the shrimp in their shells didn't add much flavor so if you want to cut down on the mess factor of eating this dish, you can peel the shrimp before cooking.

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