Caldo de Mariscos



5 qts water (5lt)

2 chile serrano chiles

1 entire head of garlic

3 sprigs fresh oregano

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs fresh marjoram

2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1 large fresh red snapper, fileted with filets, fish carcass and fish head reserved (about 2lbs/1kg) – cut the fish filets into 1”/2.5cm pieces

1 lb/500g crab in shell, cut in half lengthwise (I use small blue crab, about 4oz/113g each)

1 lb/500g large shrimp, in shell with heads

1 lb/500g scallops

1 lb/500g of one or a combination of the following:  cooked squid, cooked mussels, cooked octopus, oysters*

2 oz dried chile ancho, (about 4 – 62g)

1 lb/500g tomatoes, seeded, peeled and chopped

1 onion, sliced

2 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil (30ml)

Salt to taste

Fresh herbs for garnish: thyme, oregano and/or cilantro

Chopped radishes

Sliced avocado


Bring 5 quarts of water in a large stock pot to a boil. Add serrano chiles, garlic, oregano, thyme, marjoram, cilantro and fish head. Let boil for about 10 minutes. Add whole crab, fish carcass and fish head and continue to boil for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, boil the dried chile ancho in about 4 cups of water until chiles are soft. Drain and discard water. Remove seeds and stems, and rinse chiles. 

In a blender container, add tomatoes, onions, cooked chiles and enough water to facilitate blending. Puree well. In a skillet, heat the olive or vegetable oil. Add the pureed sauce to the heated pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened.

Remove the fish stock from the stove and carefully strain, removing and discarding the fish carcass, fish head, garlic and herb stems. Reserve the crabs for serving with the soup. **

Return the strained fish stock to the heat. Add reduced chile sauce to the stock pot and combine well. Return the crabs to the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cut snapper filet pieces, shrimp, scallops, and mixed seafood and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the seafood is heated throughout. Season with salt and garnish with fresh herbs, chopped radishes and sliced avocado.



*I don’t usually recommend frozen, precooked seafood, but octopus and squid take a hour or so to cook,  while shrimp and scallops take a few minutes. I buy a 1 lb./500g bag of frozen mixed seafood at the super market that works very well in this soup. You can substitute any type of seafood you like for this ingredient, just make sure what you add cooks quickly. 

**You can make the stock ahead of time by stopping at this point. Simply strain the stock and add the reduced chile sauce, combining well. Discard the fish carcass and fish head, and reserve the crabs in a separate storage container int he refrigerator. Chill the stock and store in the refrigerator.  Once you are ready to serve the soup, heat the stock, return the crabs to the stock, and add the remaining seafood. Simmer briskly for 5 minutes, and your caldo de mariscos is ready to serve!