Mercato’s Zuppa di Pesce

Yield: 6-8 servings


750 g manila clams

Handful salt

Pinch cornmeal

1.8 Kg canned plum tomatoes

60 g fresh garlic

70 g anchovy paste or fillets

200 g shallots

400 g spot prawns

30 g fresh parsley

40 g fresh basil

¾ cup (200 mL) olive oil1

5 g chili flakes

1¾ cups (425 mL) white wine

1 Kg halibut fillet, large cubes

450 g fresh Roma tomatoes, large cubes

6½ cups (1.6 L) water

20 g kosher salt

1 lemon wedge


  1. Tip: The actual cooking time is relatively short, so make sure you have everything ready to go ahead of time!
  2. Purge clams of sand or grit, by rinsing quickly and placing in a large bowl of cold water. Add a handful of salt and a pinch of cornmeal, and leave in fridge for two hours. Rinse clams thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, purée canned tomatoes with a hand blender or food processor until liquefied. Pass through sieve to strain out seeds. Set aside.
  4. Finely mince garlic and anchovy fillets (if you can’t find paste). Thinly slice shallots and rinse prawns well. Pick parsley and basil from stems, wash in cold water and pat dry.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large, shallow saucepot on medium heat. Add shallots, anchovy, parsley, chili flakes and sauté, stirring constantly. After a few minutes (when shallots begin to brown slightly), add garlic and cook for another minute.
  6. When garlic has just started to change colour, deglaze with wine.
  7. Add clams, halibut, prawns, pureed tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, water, and half the salt. Place lid on pot and simmer for five minutes, or until all the clams have opened.
  8. Flake halibut by gently pressing on each piece with the back of a large spoon. Check the seasoning, and adjust the consistency of the broth by adding more water or letting it reduce further. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and serve with crusty bread.

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