Cataplana is a Portuguese traditional dish that originates from the Algarve region, introduced by the Moors during their occupation of said region from the 8th-13th c. A cataplana is a large, clamshell-like hammered copper dish, and it usually contains a thick bouillabaisse-like fish stew.
I'm told that the real secret is to cook everything separately, then to put it all into the cataplana with the topping and let it steam for five minutes to let the flavours work with each other. If you don't have a cataplana, I'm sure that any lidded container would make do!
This version of the cataplana recipe manages to capture the richness of the stock (the miso helps) and a hint of the sea (nori). Feedback very welcome, btw! I'm not that experienced with the differing types of seaweeds out there, so definitely would be interested in alternate suggestions on that front (keeping in mind that it's difficult to find many organic or odd ingredients in Portugal!)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion (I prefer Spanish, but yellow is fine)
2 cups carrots in bite-size chunks about an inch long
3 cloves chopped garlic
Fry the onions and carrots in the olive oil over medium flame in a large stewpot. When the onions start to soften up and yellow, add the garlic. Fry an additional five minutes. Then add your liquid:
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock*
1 tbsp red miso paste
2 sheets of roasted nori, cut into bite-size pieces
6 potatoes, washed and prettied up (eyes and blemishes removed), cut into large pieces (bigger than bite-size- you should need to cut 'em to eat 'em)
Oregano, basil, salt*, freshly-ground pepper
Feel free to throw in a cup or two of chopped kale or spinach if you have any lying around, too. It adds great colour and richness to the broth.
Let it simmer on medium-low flame, stirring frequently, for about half an hour to forty-five minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. You don't want to let it go too long or you'll end up with tomato mashed potatoes, though.
Put into your cataplana, sprinkle generously with about 2 tbsp of fresh cilantro leaves. Cover. Let sit for five minutes, serve.
*I'm a diabetic with high blood pressure, so make my own, cuz the store-bought stuff is too salty. Adjust your salt quantities accordingly.