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Traditional Portuguese cataplana pan filled with a sea food cataplana. Served with bread and wine.
4.93 from 56 votes

Traditional Portuguese Seafood Cataplana

Cataplana is an adaptable and easy to make traditional Portuguese stew from the Algarve, cooked in the distinctive flying saucer shaped cataplana pan. Follow my instructions from my recent masterclass with Portuguese Chef Nelson Candeias and learn to make an authentic seafood cataplana at home.
Servings: 6
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr


Lobster sauce

  • 2 Lobsters (heads and shells)
  • 100 ml Olive oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Carrot
  • Salt
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Ripe tomato
  • 50 ml Brandy
  • 2 l water

Seafood Cataplana

  • 2 onions - (peeled)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 30 ml Olive Oil
  • 20 ml white wine
  • 440 g ripe tomatoes - (or one can good quality tinned)
  • Salt
  • Bay Leaf
  • 150 ml Lobster sauce
  • 2 Lobster tails - (chopped into chunks, salted well)
  • 200 g Clams
  • 200 g Mussels
  • 200 g Tiger Prawns - (peeled)
  • 200 g Langoustines
  • 200 g Monkfish - (chopped into chunks, salted well)
  • 200 g Grouper - (chopped into chunks, salted well)
  • 4 tbs Coriander - finely chopped


Lobster Sauce

  • Cut the lobster’s heads and shells into little pieces and fry them in olive oil.
  • Next, add the onion, garlic and carrot, all chopped, followed by the bay leaf, black peppercorns and let it braise well.
  • Add the chopped tomato and allow the juices to reduce.
  • Add the Brandy and allow to reduce.
  • Add the water and season with salt.
  • Allow it to stew until the liquid reduces to two thirds.
  • Season to taste.
  • Strain the sauce to remove the shells before serving.

Seafood Cataplana

  • Cut the onions, garlic and peppers into thin slices.
  • Pour olive oil on the bottom of the “Cataplana” pan
  • Add the vegetables and allow to braise
  • Once the vegetables are braised add the wine.
  • Add the lobster sauce, tomatoes and half the coriander chopped coriander, season with salt and let it stew.
  • Once the sauce has reduced, add the fish, prawns, clams and some of the mussels.  Mix well.
  • Pinch the tiger prawns in half and stand them up in the middle of the pan, arrange the remainder of the seafood around them. 
  • Close the Cataplana pan and allow to cook for 15 minutes, checking the seasoning half way though.
  • Once cooked scatter with the remaining coriander before serving.


Make the lobster sauce in advance, or omit and use a good quality ready made sauce. 
Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce and a glass of Portuguese wine.
Quantities are approximate - use what you have. 
• Please note that the nutrition information provided below is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
• Unless stated otherwise cup conversions have been made with an online tool. For accuracy please check with your favoured conversion tool. We recommend buying inexpensive digital kitchen scales.
Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 194mg | Sodium: 625mg | Potassium: 1073mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3425IU | Vitamin C: 68.2mg | Calcium: 166mg | Iron: 2.9mg