Cacciucco – Tuscan seafood stew

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This traditional fisherman's stew from the port town of Livorno in Tuscany is a seafood-lover's dream! Packed with octopus, squid, mussels, clams and langoustines as well as whatever fish is available on the day, this is a seriously flavourful stew. Serve it over toasted bread rubbed with garlic like the locals do.

First published in 2019

Cacciucco alla Livornese hails from the port city of Livorno and is said to have been created by fisherman as a way of using up the smaller fish which couldn’t be sold. Like with many of soups and stews of the region, bread plays a role. The Tuscans often make their bread without salt which means it goes stale very quickly, so to use up the stale bread it is toasted, rubbed with garlic and then topped with the stew.

While many fish stews would contain white wine, this rich stew has a red wine base which is enriched with squid and octopus, giving it an excellent depth of flavour. The selection of fish and seafood are interchangeable here so switch for your favourites if you prefer. If you have the time, it’s nice to buy whole fish and make your own fish stock.




Stew base

  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 pinch of fennel seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 small octopus, cleaned and sliced
  • squid, small, cleaned and sliced into rings
  • 250ml of red wine
  • 2 sprigs of sage
  • 400ml of passata
  • 1l fish stock
  • salt
  • pepper

Fish and seafood

  • 200g of clams, cleaned
  • 200g of mussels, cleaned
  • 6 langoustines
  • 200g of monkfish tail, cut into 6 pieces
  • 200g of gurnard, cut into 6 pieces
  • 200g of red snapper fillet, cut into 6 pieces

To finish

  • 6 slices of bread, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • parsley, chopped


Set a large pan over a medium heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil with the chilli flakes and fennel. Add the onion, garlic and celery with a pinch of salt and continue to cook until soft but without colour
Remove the vegetables from the pan and turn up the heat. Add the remaining tbsp of oil with the octopus and squid. Cook until the seafood releases some liquid and it evaporates
Add the vegetables back to the pan along with the red wine and sprigs of sage, then simmer until reduced by half. Add the passata and 600ml of fish stock and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the octopus is tender
Add the rest of the fish stock to loosen the stew along with the pieces of fish. Do not stir too much as it will break up the fish. Add in the langoustines, place the lid on and simmer for 5 minutes
Remove the lid and place the mussels and clams into the stew. Cover with a lid and cook for a further 3–4 minutes or until the shells have opened. Discard any which haven't opened
Serve over toasted bread rubbed with the garlic cloves, and garnish with freshly chopped parsley

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