Broa (Portuguese corn bread) with Caldeirada de Peixe (Portuguese fish stew)


I may have made a resolution about not complaining about the weather this year, but too bad!  Greetings from Minnesota, where I’m freezing at my desk, so today’s a soup and bread day.  In the book, we included a Portuguese Corn Bread (Broa) and an accompanying Portuguese Fish Stew (Caldeirada de Peixe) to go with it–it’s a perfect combination.

The Broa dough is simply the Master Recipe, substituting 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (yellow or white, stone-ground or regular) for 1 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour.  Bake as usual as a round loaf.  In the picture above I used a lightly greased and stove-top pre-heated black cast-iron skillet (my skillet doesn’t come with a cover or I’d have tried that, see this about baking in covered cast-iron).  Amazon carries the Lodge brand (click here to view).   Here’s the Caldierada de Peixe recipe:

Portuguese Fish Stew (Caldeirada de Peixe)

The distinguishing character of this soup comes from the orange zest and hot pepper, which makes it quite different from French or Italian versions. Cod is a typical Portuguese choice to include, but the dish works well with any combination of boneless white-fleshed, non-oily fish, and/or shellfish.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, washed to remove interior soil and coarsely chopped
1 bulb fennel, white parts only, coarsely chopped
5 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 bay leaf
Zest of 1 orange
1 quart fish stock or water, or an 8-ounce bottle of clam juice plus 3 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
Scant 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 pounds mixed white, non-oily boneless fish and shellfish, or just fish

1.  Heat the oil in a large stockpot, add the onions and leeks, and sauté in olive oil until softened. Add the fennel and garlic and sauté until aromatic.

2.  Add all the remaining ingredients except the fish and shellfish and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3.  While the stock is simmering, cut the fish into bite-size portions. Bring the stock back to a rapid boil, add the fish, bring back to a simmer, and cook for another minute or more, until the fish loses translucency.

4.  Add the shellfish (if using) and continue to boil until shells open, approximately 1 minute. Shake the pan occasionally to encourage clam and mussel shells to open. If using shrimp, turn off the heat as soon as all the shrimp lose their gray translucency; any longer and they quickly become tough and overcooked. Depending on your pot and burner, this will probably be about 2 to 3 minutes.

5.  Serve hot, with wedges of Broa.

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34 thoughts to “Broa (Portuguese corn bread) with Caldeirada de Peixe (Portuguese fish stew)”

  1. All depends on how large your cast-iron pan is… for the 12-inch, you need about a pound and a half. Also depends on how thick you want it.

  2. I usually cover it to get back to a simmer quick– but do lots of peeking because the pitfall is overcooking the shrimp and shelfish. They get tough in a hurry.

    Cod’s the traditional white fish, but any non-oily fish works well. I love it with striped bass when we can get it.

  3. Forty-five and rainy sounds GREAT! It’s 29 and windy here in Boston. Whining aside, it is good bread baking weather. I’ll have to try the broa – I’m SO into my cast iron pan lately.

  4. Hello!
    I have a question unrelated to the Broa.
    I made pizza last night using the Master Recipe from the book. It tasted great but I would have liked it to be crispier on the bottom.
    Do you have any suggestions for this? I used a pizza stone preheated to 550 and baked at 550.

  5. Hi Sue,

    Crank your oven up as high it will go, place the stone on the bottom shelf of the oven and let the oven and stone preheat for about 30+ minutes to really make sure that stone is up to temperature.

    Also be sure to get your dough rolled out as thin as you can, about 1/16-inch and you should have a crisp crust!

    Enjoy, Zoë

  6. Hi!
    I’ve been making artisan bread for a few weeks now, following your basic recipe. I never made any kind of bread before, so I’m just delighted with it! I leave in California but I’m Portuguese. It is a nice surprise do see the broa recipe in here!! I already wondered if I could do it using this method (I miss it and never found anything like it for sell here in the States). So now I know it’s possible!
    I make good Caldeira too. In Portugal, the traditional ingredients for Caldeira are just onions, garlic, red or green peppers, tomatoes, wine, olive oil, salt and some sort of hot chili to give it a kick. The only herbs used are just parsley or cilantro, because anything else will overwhelm the flavor of the fish. And by the way, you can make Caldeira with chicken, bacalhau (dry salted cod) or even pork if you’d like, although the traditional is the one with fish, or bacalhau.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes, and thank you for showing in here a little bit of my country! Paula B.
    P.S. If you need more recipes from Portugal, feel free to contact me!;)

  7. Hello

    I love the concept in your book but I am having a few problems. I made the master recipe two days ago and have made 2 loaves. The first one was O.K. but a little dense. The second one I let rise for a little longer (1.5 hours) but it formed a crust (I didn’t cover it as it says in your book) and then it didn’t really rise very much. It did rise a bit in the oven and although it came out with a nice crust it was really quite heavy. Any thoughts as to what I am doing wrong. I hope you can help because I would love to use your method but have slightly lighter loaves !
    Also I found the dough had lumps in when I took it out of the fridge. Is this because I didn’t mix it enough at the beginning. I think I probably over-worked it when I was formimg the loaf because I was trying to get the lumps out !.
    Thank you

  8. Paula: I loved reading your note, so sweet of you. I’m so proud that you liked our recipe!

    Fiona: Try a longer resting time and I think you’ll be happier, like 60 to 90 minutes rather than 40. Some people have preferred it that way. Also check out this post expanding on the subject:

    What you mention about overworking late in the cycle sounds convincing. I wonder if you’re using bread flour which results in a drier dough and makes it more likely you’ll have trouble getting everything to incorporate with the liquid?

  9. I love your book, and I recently discovered wonderful versatility of the broa recipe. The spicy pork buns are wonderful. My husband calls them “packets of the gods”. They got me thinking and I used the same method to make corn dogs. They were a hit and so much healthy than fried corn dogs.

  10. Zoe and Jeff…We especially like the Portuguese corn bread! We also took your pecan roll recipe and adapted to make cinnamon rolls. Btw, I didn’t have time to put them in the frig to so they would be easier to cut… I used dental floss to cut them and it worked like a charm!

  11. Hello. I’m from Portugal and I just bought a copy of your Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. I was reading through it when I discovered the Broa recipe, which was a very nice surprise. But a bad one came from reading the actual text. You see, broa is not the portuguese word for bread – pão is. Broa is just a special kind of bread. But if we are refering to, say, ciabatta bread or baguette, we don’t call them broa. We call them pão. So please don’t say broa is the portuguese word for bread, because it is totally incorrect.

  12. Hi

    I am Portuguese and I bought your book a few weeks ago and I have been trying to bake your master recipe with some difficulties. I live in Japan and here we do not find easily All Purpose flour, less yet unbleached flour. It is being difficult to get the proportions right to get the 10 per cent gluten that you suggest in the book.
    On other hand also the measuring cups in Japan are different than US ones. I have been researching on your webpage and in the internet what would be the right amount of ingredients in weight, metric system. I have found different readings. I would appreciate very very much if you could post again a note about this with the weight of all the ingredients in grams.

    Last, and because I am Portuguese, I have to say that was great to see a recipe of “Broa de Milho” (this is the full name of this bread) in your book. However, the recipe for Caldeirada seems a bit odd for a Portuguese. In Portugal we do not use fennel bulbs in our tradicional recipes at all. An average Portuguese would not know what that is or would be difficult to find such thing in a local supermarket. We also do not use leeks for the Caldeirada. The fish is usually used in the bones (Portuguese believe that fish in the bone gives better taste and contributes for a best stock of the dish). We do use a lot of cod, but dried (we soaked it before using it) . Dried, soaked cod could be used but usually the Caldeirada is made with fresh fish cut in pieces. The very last comment, we do not use orange or lemon peel at all in a normal Caldeirada recipe.
    Anyway, does not mean your is not as good as the traditional recipe we have, it is maybe even better, but this the Portuguese way is slightly different….
    Thank you very much, I think your book is great and I have been recommending it to evrybody I know. It would be much more helpful for non american people if the recipes had the ingredients in the metric system.

    1. Paula: Very challenging to make our method with bleached flour— you’ll really have to dry out the dough a bit if that’s what you’re using. It really doesn’t work well with bleached flour but if that’s all you can get, use an extra quarter cup of flour in the mixture and let me know what happens.

      Weights of ingredients: 1000 grams unbleached all-purpose flour, 750 grams water, 20 grams salt, and 15 grams granulated yeast.

      Thanks for all your comments on the Caldeirada— not surprised we’re a bit inauthentic, but so pleased you liked the stew anyway. Jeff

  13. Hi Jeff

    Thank so much for giving me all this precious information. It toke me a while to write back because I have been trying your master recipe (did not adventure in trying others before I perfect this one) with different flours and gluten percentages and mixes. I found unbleached flour in a supermarket but 1kg costs 9 US dollars!!! Bit pricey for everyday bread….
    Actually it seems, at least for me, that the bleached flour they sale in Tokyo works fine. Probably the bread is not as beautiful and tasty as yours but it looks and tastes quite good! I did the 50% percent mix of each (hard and soft flour), using the quantities you gave. I also found another shop that sales 10.3% gluten flour but a bit expensive as well. In the end, making bread at home in Japan is an expensive exercise. Average 1kg of flour costs between 2 and 3 dollars. However, the bread tastes delicious and your method is fantastic. I can not wait to see your next book. Thank you very much for the measurements in the metric system. I am recommending your book to everybody I know and I think I got you a few buyers here in Tokyo.

    1. Hi Paula,

      I’m so thrilled to hear that the bread is working out and you are baking it in Tokyo! Very exciting!

      Thank you for the note! Zoë

    1. Hi Margaret,

      Because the dough doesn’t have any dairy or eggs it should be just fine, as long as there is no mold! It probably won’t have the same rising power, which will result in a much flatter version of the bread. When I first met Jeff he was storing all of his non-dairy doughs for a month!

      Enjoy, Zoë

  14. Hello Jeff and Zoe
    I have a question about the cornmeal.
    I’m originally from Venezuela so we’re used to make a lot of Arepas with our cornmeal. However, after living abroad I noticed our cornmeal is very different from others (E.g. african cornmeal).
    My question is, when one of your recipes ask for cornmeal, can I use the latin-american style (pre-cooked) or should I buy an specific brand/type of cornmeal?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

  15. Hi Jeff and Zoe,
    Not sure if you still follow this post, but will try just in case. I’ve been making your broa for a few years now–my entire family loves it. But, we are no longer eating all purpose or white flours. Is it possible to make this with whole wheat or any gluten free flours? Perhaps adding wheat gluten as I am now doing with your healthy breads book? And, any ideas as to amounts for substitution?
    Thanks so much,

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      You can replace the all-purpose with whole wheat, but you may also need to increase the amount of water slightly, since whole wheat absorbs water differently. Because the dough already has so much cornmeal, which has no gluten, you will probably have more success with the whole wheat over using a gluten-free flour substitute.

      I hope that helps! Zoë

  16. Hi! Love your recipes! Just wondering how I can baked in a lightly greased preheated skillet without the oil burning in the preheat process?
    By the way, I always bake in a pot as my oven is not suitable for the water in the pan method.

    1. Hi Sandra,

      You just want to make sure the oil is one with a high burn point, so it doesn’t smoke, but most loaves don’t require any oil in the pan for baking.

      Thanks, Zoë

  17. Hi. I’m Portuguese living in Portugal. I’ve eaten Caldeirada all my life. Although there are a multitude of recipes from all over the coast and a few riverside towns as well, I’m afraid orange zest and fennel are unheard of… as, I would say, leeks. Not that’s absolutely impossible the existence of one such specific recipe being cooked in Portugal, for I do not claim to know all of the different ones, but the traditional 999+ have none of those ingredients.
    So the recipe you present is as far from “Portuguese” as jamie oliver’s recipe of pasteis de nata, that is, in name only.
    Also, the recipes use fresh fish, so cod, which in Portugal is 99,99% consumed in its salted form, isn’t usually included in them; however there are a couple of specific cod caldeiradas.
    It was a fishermans recipe, usually envolving layering on a lidded pot, olive oil (sometimes also lard) onions and fish, usually but not invariably with potatoes, tomato and peppers. The fish would be whatever was fresh and less selleable at the local market. Most of the recipes do not include sautéing, just layering with fish on top, lid on and stove on, but a few of them do.
    Best regards

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