In restaurants, spiny lobster is usually grilled or served à la plancha – a fast, easy cooking technique. A far more complicated, but also much more refined dish is the caldereta de langosta, a spiny lobster stew. After we were done fishing, Toni and a few of his friends invited me back to their casetas varaderos to try this unusual delicacy and show me how it is prepared. A caldereta made with freshly-caught spiny lobsters is certainly a special treat, but the stew tastes even better when made right by the sea in a fisherman’s hut and enjoyed with friends. Frivolities begin even before the meal is ready; indeed, friends are already sat outside the hut or stood beside the cook, lending a helping hand here and there. The helping hand in this case chiefly involves topping up the cook’s glass with cool beer using a jug that has to be refilled multiple times at a nearby pub. Paco – as is obvious when you look at him – is a real aficionado of good food and enjoys the reputation of being a truly excellent cook. Today, he is in charge of the kitchen and is going to share his coveted spiny lobster stew recipe with us.

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Ingredients:

For eight people: good olive oil, 3 to 6 spiny lobsters depending on size, thinly sliced white bread, large white onions (1 per person), large, ripe (winter) tomatoes, 1 red and 1 green pepper, garlic cloves, 1 or 2 chilli peppers, 2 bay leaves, fish stock (preferably a caldo made with freshly-caught fish)

Preparation

Skin the garlic cloves, tomatoes and onions, then finely chop them and the peppers. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and sauté the garlic and peppers, gradually adding the chillies and the tomatoes. Season with salt. Now add the onions and continue to fry off the vegetables, stirring continuously until the onions become clear and colourless. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches a smooth, thick consistency. In the meantime, cut the spiny lobsters into pieces. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and add the bay leaves and lobster pieces. Transfer the softened mixture of onions, peppers and tomatoes into a saucepan and blend to a fine pulp with a handheld blender. Now add a few ladles of boiling fish stock to this so-called sofrit and pour the entire mixture over the well-cooked lobster pieces. Leaving the stew to simmer, heat up a generous dose of olive oil in another pan. Fry off the slices of bread until they are golden-brown and use kitchen roll to soak up any extra oil from the bread. Finally, serve the spiny lobster stew from the pot with the fried bread. This meal is best washed down with a good, dry white wine such as a Verdejo or Albariño. Bon profit!

As a few small waves ripple softly against the cliffs beyond the open door of the fisherman’s hut, I gaze out across the open sea, only barely able to pick out the silhouettes of little fishing boats in the darkness. There is surely no finer place in the world to enjoy this marvellous Balearic delicacy.