Asopao de mariscos is a popular recipe in the Caribbean and countries like Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. It’s usually made in restaurants near beaches because it’s comforting and fulfilling after a long day at the beach.
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What is Asopao?
Asopao is basically a soggy rice soup. Comfort food with Latin flavor. It’s usually made with chicken or with seafood (mariscos). So, today I bring you my special recipe for an asopao de mariscos that everybody will love.
What type of rice is best to use?
I would say that in Latin American we usually use regular long-grain white rice for most of our recipes. It’s a quite versatile type of rice and it holds its shape even when boiled for a long time.
Asopao must have the consistency of a soup but the rice has to be a bit soggy—although not completely disintegrated into the soup. Rice like arborio — most commonly known as risotto rice — will make the soup too thick and it won’t give you that nice rice texture.
How to make asopao de mariscos
This is an extremely easy recipe that may seem complex for the number of ingredients but basically just has three steps.
It all starts with a flavorful shrimp base. I will teach you two ways of doing it.
The first one is the traditional way. In this method, you need to boil the shrimps’ shell and head along with some carrot and celery — they will add flavor and thickness to the soup. Then blend everything until you get a smooth shrimp soup.
The other method is the easiest. This is the one that I use the most. Just boil the water with the carrot and the celery and add your favorite type of seafood or a shrimp bouillon cube. I know, there is a big taboo and a lot of misconceptions around using bouillon cubes. But I just make sure to use the most natural and low-in-sodium bouillon cube. Most people think they are extremely salty and it’s partially true. But I only add the bouillon cube as the only source of salt for this entire recipe that feeds up to 6 people. So, the amount of salt is the same if I use the other method and add salt to taste.
After the carrot is fork-tender, I blend the soup and get a thick seafood/shrimp base.
Then in a big pot — I love to use my humongous Uno Casa dutch oven — I sauteé some onion, garlic, bell pepper, and tomato with olive oil to get a fragrant “sofrito”.
Then I add 2 tbsp of tomato paste for an intensified tomato flavor in the soup. Add the dry wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates — about 1-2 minutes.
Then it’s time to add the seafood soup and the rice. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the rice is completely done. It must look like a soup, so if you notice that the rice is absorbing too much liquid, add more water. Check the seasoning by tossing some thyme and black pepper — optionally red pepper flakes. If needed you can add a pinch of salt.
Finally, it’s the moment for the star of this dish: the seafood. I like to use big shrimps, squid, and clams (with shells). Remember to clean thoroughly all the seafood before cooking.
When working with seafood that you’re planning to boil — in a stew or soup — it’s crucial to add it at last and time it carefully. Seafood can go from tender to a rubber-like texture in a few minutes. For me, the perfect amount of time is five minutes in boiling water. Then serve immediately with some arepas or tostones. Sprinkle with fresh parsley for a touch of freshness.
- 6 cups water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cup rice
- 1 big onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 to mato
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 200 gr squid
- 200 gr peeled shrimps
- 200 gr clams (with shell)
- 1 fish or seafood bouillon cube
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tbsp black pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
- Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- Lime to serve
- Salt to taste if needed
In a pot boil the water with the bouillon cube, the shrimp shells, carrot (diced), and celery stalk. Boil until the carrot is fork-tender, then blend until you get a smooth soup.
In a big pot/ dutch oven, add the oil, onion (thinly diced), garlic cloves (minced), bell pepper (thinly diced), and tomato (diced). Let it cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the onions are translucent.
Add the wine and tomato paste and stir to mix. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
Toss the rice and the shrimp shell soup. Season with thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes (optional), and salt if needed (taste before adding salt). As soon as it starts to boil, lower the temperature to low, cover with a lid, and let the rice cook for 15 minutes until it gets soggy. If the rice is absorbing too much liquid, add more water. The rice mustn’t dry.
When the rice is completely done, add all the seafood (cleaned) and let it gently cook for 5 minutes. The shrimp must be pink and the clams open. Sprinkle with thinly chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately with a wedge of lime.