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Fish Stew Recipe

Fish Stew/Pescado en Salsa

Pescado en salsa is a fish stew cooked over the stove in a clay pot. A tomato based sofrito coats fresh fish and finished with fine herbs. The fish is cooked until it has absorbed all the surrounding flavors and is delicate and flaky. Imagine the taste of paella without the rice. 

Pescado en salsa is rustic enough for a weekday meal like other stews but beautiful enough to serve for company on a special night. If you want to make it extra special, you can add some clams or shrimp when you add the fish. 

This dish is typically called pescado en barro, which means, fish in clay pot, referring to where it’s cooked. My mom would make it so often, we called it “pescado a la costanera” naming it after the street where we lived. 

This recipe is something I grew up on. My mom was very good at marrying traditional techniques with different flavors. Cooking in a clay pot over the stove top is very old school and she loves to do that. If you don’t have a clay pot you can use a heavy bottom pot such as a Le Creuset. Clay and terracotta pots retain a lot of heat so everything stays really moist.

There is no contest. The best sides for this dish are fluffy white rice, maduros and tostones. 

Fish Stew/Pescado en Salsa

Recipe by Abuelas Cuban CounterCourse: SoupsCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 pounds of any firm white fish, cut into large 2-inch cubes (mahi mahi, halibut or grouper)

  • 2 dried chorizo links, sliced diagonally (We like the brand Palacios) 

  • 2 medium onions (yellow or red), finely diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced

  • 1 poblano pepper, finely diced 

  • 6 cloves of garlic 

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 ½ cups of dry white wine (We like Sauvignon Blanc for this recipe)

  • ½ cup of brandy (We like Cardenal Mendoza)

  • ½ tablespoon of tomato paste 

  • 1 cup of tomato sauce

  • 1 15-oz can of low sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 

  • 2 to 3 cups of fish or seafood stock (We like the brands “Aneto” or “Imagine”) 

  • 1 large potato cut in medium 2-inch cubes

  • 3 teaspoons of salt and freshly cracked pepper

  • 1 tablespoon of creole seasoning  

  • 160 mg of whole saffron, bloomed in 1 cup of warm water 

  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil 

  • ¼ cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped 

  • Garnish: fresh herbs such as parsley and chives 


  • Heat 1 cup of water and add the saffron into the water. Allow the saffron to bloom and dissolve into the water. It will take at least 5 minutes. Set aside. 
  • Dry the fish well and set on a plate or sheet pan. Sprinkle the fish with the creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix together and set aside. 
  • Heat the clay pot directly on the burner. Add chorizo and allow the oil to render.  Add the onion, bell peppers and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to keep everything loose. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables become soft and golden. If you need a little more olive oil to loosen everything add it now a tablespoon at a time.
  • Add the garlic and bay leaf and cook for another 3 minutes. 
  • Add the tomato paste and sauce and stir everything around on high heat for a couple of minutes until it looks as though it will dry out. 
  • Add the wine, brandy, saffron threads with liquid, 2 cups of fish stock, potatoes and garbanzos. Bring to a boil then drop your heat to low. Cover with a fitted top or lightly with aluminum foil. This will help the potatoes steam. Cook for 12-15 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften. 
    – If too much of the liquid has evaporated add 1 to 2 cups of the fish stock.  
    – Add the pieces of fish in one layer. Nestle them into the liquid. Do not move them once they are in. 
    – Cook for 10-12 minutes on low until the fish is cooked through and opaque. ***Make sure there is a rolling simmer in the pot while it cooks. If not, raise the heat to medium low. 
    – Spoon each serving into a bowl and enjoy.