Bullinada (Catalan Fish Stew) from The New York Times

All along the Mediterranean we come across seafood soups – such as bouillabaisse, cioppino, and Zarzuela. This stew is from the northeast coast of Spain, the group of provinces known as Catalunya (Catalonia). Bullinada is a creamy stew of white fish, potatoes, garlic and saffron – but it’s dairy free! The creaminess comes from mayonnaise that is added at the end. Surprisingly, it doesn’t add a lot of fat, but it does bring a richness to the stew that really complements the flavors and helps bring out the beautiful yellow from the saffron.


This recipe is originally from the book Claudia Rosen’s Mediterranean, and adapted by Melissa Clark for the NYT. 


2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Large Yellow Onion, diced

8 Garlic Cloves minced (separate – 6 used early on and 2 added later)

¼ teasp Saffron

8 C Fish Stock (or a combination of vegetable stock and clam juice)

½ C Dry White Wine (Verdejo, Albariño, Garnacha Blanca)

1¾ # New Potatoes (choose small ones if you can) sliced about ½” thick

1 teasp Fennel Seeds, crushed

Strips of zest from ½ orange

Salt & Pepper

1¾ # Skinless Fish Filets (monkfish, hake, cod)


¾ C Mayonnaise

Juice of ½ a lemon, plus more to taste

½ teasp Aleppo Pepper

½ C Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. 

Add the onion, stirring occasionally, and cook until it begins to soften.

Add the 6 minced garlic cloves and cook another minute or so until golden. (Be careful not to burn the garlic.)


Stir in the saffron and add the fish stock and wine.

Add sliced potatoes, fennel seed, orange peel, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes.


Season the fish with salt and pepper.

Remove the orange peels from the soup (if you can – it’s ok if some remain.)

Place the fish filets on top and cover, cooking for about 5-15 minutes (depending on the type and thickness of the fish) until it’s opaque and flaky. Break the fish up into chunks.


In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon juice and remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic and Aleppo pepper.

SLOWLY stir a ladleful of hot broth into the mayo mixture to temper it, then gently stir this back into the soup. Heat thoroughly, but DO NOT BOIL, or it will curdle.

Stir in the parsley and taste – adding more salt if needed.

Serve with extra Aleppo pepper and chopped parsley.