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Bullinada (Catalan Fish Soup)

Claudia Roden

by Claudia Roden from Med: A Cookbook

Bullinada is a delicate, white fish soup, swirled with a garlic mayonnaise. This is Claudia Roden's take on the Catalan classic.

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Claudia Roden

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The Catalan bullinada is like the bourride of the French Riviera and the gazpachuelo of Malaga – a fish soup with garlic mayonnaise stirred in. It has a mysterious delicate flavour and beautiful warm colour. It is sometimes made with tiny baby squid alone, or a mix of prawns and shellfish. I make it with white fish alone for friends who cannot eat shellfish. Use hake, monkfish or cod cheeks. You can make much of it in advance and finish the soup a few minutes before you are ready to eat.

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1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
8 garlic cloves: 6 finely chopped and 2 crushed
A good pinch of saffron threads
2 litres fish stock (use 3 fish stockpots)
100ml dry white wine
800g new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm slices
1 tsp fennel seeds
strips of peel from ½ orange
800g skinless fish fillets, such as hake or monkfish
200ml good-quality bought mayonnaise
juice of ½ lemon
Good pinch of chilli pepper, plus extra to serve
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and black pepper

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In a wide pan, fry the onion in the oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the chopped garlic and stir for 2 minutes until it just begins to colour.

Stir in the saffron and pour in the fish stock and the wine, then put in the potatoes, fennel seeds and orange peel and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 20–25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Ten minutes before you are ready to serve, remove the orange peel and put in the fish. Cook, covered, over low heat for 4–10 minutes, depending on the fish and the thickness of the fillets, until the fish becomes opaque and the flesh begins to flake when you cut into it with a pointed knife. Break the fillets into pieces.

In a jug, beat the mayonnaise with the lemon juice, the crushed garlic and a pinch of chilli.

Just before serving, add a ladleful or two of the hot stock into the mayonnaise mixture and beat it in, then gently stir into the simmering soup. Heat through but do not let it boil or the mayonnaise will curdle. Serve sprinkled with parsley and pass round some chilli for anyone who would like to add more.

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Thirty years after the publication of her first Mediterranean cookbook, Claudia returns to our kitchens (and our favourite reading nooks) with a fresh set of recipes from this diverse region. Promising effortless and authentic dishes and culinary tales, Med is a celebration of sun-soaked dishes, manifold ingredients and influences, and food to be enjoyed with family and friends.

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From the book: Med: A Cookbook

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