Created by the fishermen of Peniche during the ‘Ages of Discovery’ (15th century), Caldeirada is Portugal’s official one-pot fish stew. Other countries have similar dishes, like Bouillabaisse in France, Kakavia in Greece, Zarzuela in Spain and the Cacciucco in Italy. However, the best Caldeirada on the planet belongs to Peniche because it is made with the best fish and olive oil in the world – The Portuguese Fish and Olive Oil!

Long gone are the times of famine when this stew was made up of entirely of fish gills.  Nowadays this is a dish of the bourgeoisie, leaving its humble conception in the past.  As is told by the fisherman of Peniche, the best Caldeirada is made with ray, conger, cancarro (an expensive fish because it is usually caught in deep-sea), John Dory and Monkfish. To achieve all the flavor of the sea, it is vital to cook the fish with the bones and skin. Also important is to use good (bio or organic) ingredients; onion, tomato, and pepper. Apart from the quality of ingredients, the major differences and what greatly distinguishes Portuguese Carldeirada other similar dishes cooking the fish with bones and skin.

There are several types of Caldeirada, such as the ones made with Cod (Bacalhau) or seafood. Some even say that the best Caldeirada is made with just one kind of fish. However, all the Peniche fishermen are unanimous in saying that the best Caldeirada is one that allows you to create your own recipe,  as long as the raw ingredients are fresh. They recommended having at least four to five varieties of fish like the ones mentioned above and depending on the imagination of the chef.  Equally important to the quality of the fish and ingredients is low heat and the 1h cooking time.  For the modified version of this recipe using seafood, only add the prawns or lobster is in the final moments of cooking.

This Caldeirada Recipe is taken from my Portuguese Travel Cookbook, where you can find over 50 Traditional Portuguese Recipes and learn how the Portuguese say “I love you” through food.

Caldeirada Recipe

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 2 kg of various fish: monkfish, conger, skate, red, grouper, sea bass, croaker
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 kg of potatoes
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 4 bell peppers (2 red and 2 green)
  • 2 dl. of Portuguese olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small hot chili
  • 2 bay leaves.


Cut the onions in thick slices and place them on the bottom of the pot.  Add a layer of thickly sliced (so they don’t melt) potatoes on top of the onions. Then add the pepper strips, crushed garlic, and roughly chopped tomatoes. Working layers, add the pieces of fish, alternating with vegetables. Season with olive oil, pepper, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover the pan and cook gently over a low heat, shaking the pan occasionally for 45m – 1h. Serve the stew in the pot without ever being stirred, just shaken.

Disclaimer :

All content of this posts, including the recipe, text, and photos are subject to copyright and belong to the Portuguese Travel Cookbook and its authors Nelson Carvalheiro and Emanuele Siracusa. 


Nelson Carvalheiro

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I am an award-winning filmmaker and content creator that loves to create meaningful and inspiring films uniquely tailored for each client and their story. I am based in Lisbon and travel to destinations worldwide.
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