Table of Contents
- 1 Destination: Cartagena, Colombia
- 2 Recipe: Cazuela de Mariscos
- 3 A new Colombian Friend
- 4 First time in South America
- 5 My interpretation of Cazuela de Mariscos
- 6 Here’s Dish Our Town’s recipe for cazuela de mariscos
- 7 Cazuela de Mariscos
Destination: Cartagena, Colombia
Recipe: Cazuela de Mariscos
As I mentioned before, for the next few weeks, I will be exploring a dish from one of the countries who are competing in the World Cup. After yesterday’s win against Japan, Colombia moves up to the Round of 16 – amazing and congratulations!
I love watching the Colombian team do their salsa celebration dance after each goal! Watching them play takes me back to 2008, which was the first time I visited Cartagena, where I watched and participated in random street dancing in town.
A new Colombian Friend
In 2008, I started working for Etro (Italian fashion company). At that time, I was 1 of 4 salespeople in the men’s department. I met a Colombian friend (whom I will not name to respect his privacy – but you know who you are), who had just purchased a new apartment in Cartagena, located right on the beach and had 3 pools, and 2 bedrooms. He was planning to rent out the apartment whenever he and his partner were not using it.
We talked about the apartment daily. Naturally, I started thinking of being his first guest. Then in the April 2008 issue of Travel and Leisure Magazine, there it was: a 3-page article on Cartagena by Oliver Schwaner-Albright. That’s when I told Andrew that this was another sign for us to go now! It was time to finally go to South America and Cartagena was having its moment, with its colonial influence and Caribbean flair.
First time in South America
We’d never been to South America before so it was very exciting! This town reminded me of the many beach towns of my birth country, the Philippines. It’s full of Spanish influence and it was crazy HOT – I felt at home as soon as we arrived.
Another area we wanted to visit in Colombia was an island called Isla Grande, near Cartagena, but we did not have enough time.
As you already know, our favorite part of each town is its dishes. I asked my Colombian friend recently which dish was the most traditional to the town of Cartagena, and he said cazuela de mariscos – a seafood stew.
AH yes! This is the dish that actually made the most impact on me while in Cartagena; because it was similar in taste to many of the dishes I grew up with – why? It’s made with coconut milk. Tropical towns love their coconut and really know how to use it properly.
In the , Travel and Leisure article La Casa De Socorro was mentioned as a restaurant where you can find traditional food of Cartagena. It was located in the Getsemaní district, which was just outside of the City Ramparts, which was also supposed to be a bit “dodgy” but was on its way to being “cleaned-up.” Being New Yorkers living downtown, we’re very familiar with gentrification and were thrilled to visit the district.
It was such a great restaurant; there were no tourists, they were all locals or at least all Colombians. One of the house specialties was the cazuela de mariscos, which I ordered. It was full of shellfish and fish with a spicy seafood broth and coconut milk. It was so delicious served with coconut rice.
Trying to find out more about this traditional dish was quite difficult. So, I’m going to make my own theory that since Cartagena was close to the sea, the fishermen probably first discovered this stew. Maybe this is what they did to cook the shellfish and fish that: 1 – Were not at the peak of freshness, and/or 2 – Were fresh but not sold. This dish seems also highly influenced by the Afro-Caribbean people in Cartagena.
I also found it virtually impossible to find a Colombian restaurant in NY, in every borough, that serves a good cazuela de mariscos. In these situations, I will have to cook my own. So I searched for a recipe and came up with a book I found in my local public library called “Latin American Cooking Across the U.S.A. By Himilce Novas.
My interpretation of Cazuela de Mariscos
On p. 84, the book they had is a recipe for Colombian Cazuela de Mariscos .; BUT I felt the recipe tried to alter the dish for the U.S.A. too much. They didn’t even list coconut milk as an ingredient and used heavy cream instead. The recipe also didn’t add garlic or onions – I found that strange. The recipe also called for cooking seafood first in water then add to the coconut milk, which I found pointless.
So I followed the recipe very loosely and cooked the stew as I remembered tasting it instead.
Here’s Dish Our Town’s recipe for cazuela de mariscosPrint
A hearty and healthy Colombian Seafood Stew. An easy recipe for a healthy family dinner. Cazuela de Mariscos.
1 or 2 lobster tail, cut into 4 pieces.
1 lb. of red snapper (although I used cod because Whole Foods didn’t have snapper that day), cut into 2 inch pieces
1 lb. squid – cleaned, cut into rings; make sure to have tentacles also.
1 lb. whole large shrimp – last year, I became allergic to shrimp heads (my favorite part!) so I couldn’t add whole shrimp, but I recommend it highly for the best flavor).
1 lb. littleneck clams
1 carrot or baby carrots – sliced
1 stick of celery – sliced
1 red bell pepper – diced
1 yellow or green bell pepper – diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic – minced
1 can or coconut milk
1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup of white wine
- Dice all the vegetables as shown and mince garlic.
- Cut all seafood about same bite-size squares.
- Heat a large pan, preferably Le Creuset, medium heat and add olive oil.
- Add all vegetables and put in garlic last. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add all seafood except fish and clams and sauté about 1 minute.
- Add 6 oz. can of tomato paste and sauté a minute.
- Add coconut milk, dry white wine, fish, and clams
- Let it boil, add some red pepper flakes (optional) and simmer until all the clams open. Don’t eat clams that don’t open.
- Had some extra tentacles, so I battered with flour and fried – as appetizers.
Serve with white rice.
Keywords: Seafood Stew
Have you been to Cartagena? Have you had this dish? Please let me know in the comments. Also, let me know if you try this dish and please share with your friends, I would be so grateful! Remember: Let’s travel the world, one dish at a time!