Calandrando: A Guide to Mastering the Sicilian Seafood Stew


Understanding Calandrando

Calandrando, a quintessential Sicilian seafood stew, embodies the essence of Sicilian cuisine. This dish is renowned for its robust flavors, fresh seafood, aromatic herbs, and the finest local produce. The key to perfection lies in using high-quality ingredients and adhering to traditional preparation methods that have been passed down through generations. Calandrando is more than just a meal; it is a celebration of Sicily’s rich culinary heritage and the bountiful offerings of the Mediterranean Sea.

The History of Calandrando

A Melting Pot of Influences

Sicilian cuisine is a testament to the island’s diverse cultural influences, including Greek, Arab, Spanish, and Norman. This blend of culinary traditions has shaped Calandrando into the beloved dish it is today. Originally a humble fisherman’s meal, Calandrando has evolved into a staple of Sicilian dining, cherished by locals and visitors alike. Understanding its history enhances our appreciation for the techniques and ingredients that make this stew unique.

Essential Ingredients for Authentic Calandrando

Fresh Seafood

The heart of Calandrando lies in its seafood. An authentic version typically includes:

  • Squid: Tender and slightly sweet, adding a unique texture.
  • Shrimp: Brings a succulent flavor that complements the other seafood.
  • Mussels and Clams: Their briny taste enhances the stew’s depth.

Sicilian Olive Oil

Sicilian olive oil is known for its fruity and robust flavor. It forms the base of the stew, infusing it with richness.

Ripe Sicilian Tomatoes

The Pachino variety, known for its sweetness and low acidity, is preferred. These tomatoes provide a savory, rich sauce that binds the stew together.

Aromatic Base

  • Garlic and Onions: These aromatics form the base, adding depth and fragrance.
  • Fresh Herbs: Parsley, basil, and oregano are essential for authentic flavor.

Additional Ingredients

  • Dry White Wine: Adds complexity and enhances the seafood flavors.
  • Pasta: Spaghetti or linguine are traditional choices, absorbing the stew’s flavors.
  • Saffron (Optional): Adds a distinct depth and vibrant color.

Preparation Techniques from Sicilian Chefs

Selecting and Preparing Seafood

Using the freshest seafood is crucial. Here are some preparation tips:

  • Cleaning Mussels and Clams: Rinse thoroughly to remove sand. Scrub the shells and discard any open ones.
  • Squid Preparation: Clean and slice into rings.
  • Marinating Option: Marinate seafood in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice for added flavor.

Creating the Flavor Base

  1. Sautéing Onions: Cook until translucent to release sweetness.
  2. Adding Garlic and Herbs: Sauté briefly to release their aroma.
  3. Cooking Tomatoes: Add diced tomatoes and cook until a thick, savory sauce forms.
  4. Seasoning: Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Building the Dish

  1. Adding Seafood: Integrate prepared seafood into the tomato base.
  2. Cooking with Wine: Add white wine and cook until seafood is just done.
  3. Infusing with Saffron: If using, add saffron towards the end for color and depth.

Pasta Perfection

  1. Cooking Al Dente: Cook pasta in salted boiling water until just tender.
  2. Reserving Pasta Water: Save some pasta water before draining to adjust the stew’s consistency.
  3. Combining Pasta with Seafood: Mix pasta with the seafood mixture, using reserved water to reach the desired consistency.

Final Touches

  1. Finishing with Olive Oil: Drizzle with high-quality Sicilian olive oil.
  2. Garnishing with Fresh Parsley: Add a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
  3. Squeezing Lemon Juice: A squeeze of lemon juice brightens the flavors.
  4. Serving: Serve immediately, ensuring a generous portion of seafood and sauce on each plate.

Tips from Sicilian Chefs

Balancing Flavors

Achieving the perfect balance of sweetness, brininess, and acidity is key to a successful Calandrando. The use of fresh, high-quality ingredients ensures that each element stands out while harmonizing with the others.

Respecting Tradition

Adhering to traditional methods and ingredients is essential for authenticity. This respect for tradition preserves the dish’s integrity and connects us to its rich history.

Presentation Matters

An artful arrangement of seafood and thoughtful garnishing enhances the visual appeal of Caland’rando. Serving it with a side of crusty bread and a glass of Sicilian wine, such as Grillo or Chardonnay, elevates the dining experience.


Mastering Calandrando requires a deep appreciation for Sicilian culinary traditions and a commitment to using the finest ingredients. By following the detailed preparation techniques and tips from Sicilian chefs, you can create a seafood stew that captures the essence of Sicily. Enjoying Calandrando is not just about savoring a delicious meal; it is about experiencing a piece of Sicilian culture and history.


  1. What is Calandrando?
    • Calandrando is a traditional Sicilian seafood stew made with fresh seafood, aromatic herbs, and local produce.
  2. What seafood is used in Calandrando?
    • Calandrando typically includes squid, shrimp, mussels, and clams.
  3. How do you make the sauce for Calandrando?
    • The sauce is made by sautéing onions and garlic, adding diced Sicilian tomatoes, and seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. What type of pasta is used in Calandrando?
    • Spaghetti or linguine are the traditional pasta choices for Calandrando.
  5. What wine pairs well with Calandrando?
    • Sicilian wines like Grillo or Chardonnay pair well with Calandrando.

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