Massada de Marisco – Portuguese Seafood Pasta

A Portuguese pasta dish might sound a bit odd for some people. In fact, you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of traditional recipes using the beloved Italian invention. Massada de Marisco or Portuguese Seafood Pasta is one of them!

Massada de Marisco is a classic of many seafood restaurants and dinner tables across Portugal, the dish is believed to be a pasta variation of Arroz de Marisco, another popular Portuguese seafood dish made with rice. Traditionally, Massada de Marisco comprises shellfish, tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, and short pasta, cooked in plenty of broth, almost resembling a pasta soup. It’s simply delicious, and the perfect dish for those who want to taste some of the variety of shellfish available in Portugal. Of course, it is also a characteristic combination of flavours of the Portuguese cuisine. So, if you love pasta and seafood, this Portuguese Seafood Pasta recipe is for you!

Seafood Pasta Portugal

What Seafood to use in our Portuguese Seafood Pasta Recipe?

There’s no hard rule when it comes to what shellfish to use in this recipe. In our opinion, a good Massada de Marisco should include at least some fresh shrimp, mussels, and clams. You can also add squid, lobster, crabs, or any shellfish that matches your taste and budget. Sometimes we will even include some fish loin too. Although some might argue the name should be changed to Massada de Peixe e Marisco – Fish and Seafood Pasta in that case.

Traditionally, the pasta shape used is macaroni, but you can use any short pasta you prefer. A good tip is to favour ridged pasta over smooth, which is better at holding the sauce. For the sauce, it’s important to use very ripe tomatoes as they are softer and juicier. We used cherry tomatoes, but you can use any variety you like. One of the favourite varieties of the Portuguese is the Oxheart. As for the white wine, make sure to use a good quality one, we believe that the wine used to cook should be as good as the one you will drink with the final dish! That said, it’s time to jump to the recipe!

Massada de Marisco – Portuguese Seafood Pasta Recipe

Ingredients For the broth:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 onion – roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves – roughly chopped
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • 1 carrot – sliced
  • 1 ½ tsp salt – to taste
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Black pepper – to taste

For the pasta:

  • 300g medium sized fresh prawn – shell and head removed
  • 200g clams
  • 200g mussels
  • 1 medium size onion – diced
  • 1 small yellow pepper – roughly chopped
  • 1 small red pepper – roughly chopped
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 250g tomatoes – roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 whole garlic – peeled
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 250g macaroni
  • Salt – to taste
  • Black pepper – to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley – finely chopped 
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder


  1. Place the clams in a bowl and cover them with saltwater. Do the same with the mussels and set aside for at least one hour, but longer if possible.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the prawns: remove the head and tail, then peel each one of them. If needed, remove the dark vein located along the back of the prawn. Thoroughly rinse the peel you removed. If you are using any other shellfish that needs previous preparation, this is the time to do so.
  3. For the broth, add the shrimp peel to a medium saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients, bring it to a boil over medium to high heat, then lower the heat. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Or till the liquid is reduced to about half the quantity.
  4. Drain and rinse the clams and mussels, use a soft brush to scrub any dirt from the shells.
  5. Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tbsp of olive oil, and the whole garlic. Once the mixture has become fragrant, add your mussels and clams. Cover with a lid, let it steam for about 5 minutes.
  6. Drain the liquid released by the shellfish through a sieve straight into your broth. Remove any clams/mussels that didn’t open. Set the shellfish aside.
  7. Place the same frying pan used to steam the shellfish over medium heat. Once hot, add the remaining 2tbsp olive oil. Add the peppers and onion, fry it until softened. Move the mixture to one side of the pan before adding the garlic. If necessary, add another drizzle of olive oil. Let it cook for a minute before stirring it into the mixture. Cook everything for another 5 minutes.
  8. Add in the tomatoes, and the bay leaf, season it with a little salt. Let it cook until the tomato peels start to shrivel. Deglaze it white wine, season it with parsley, chilli powder, salt, and black pepper.
  9. Use a hand mixer to blend the broth, then strain it. Add two cups of it to the tomato sauce. Cook the sauce for another 10 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, bring 2 litters of water to a boil. Season it with salt before cooking your pasta according to the instructions on the packaging.
  11. Place the raw shrimp in the sauce. Cook it for approximately 3 minutes, then add the shellfish. We think it’s best to remove about half of the shellfish from their shells before adding it to the sauce. Finish it by stirring in the cooked pasta. Season it with more freshly ground black pepper, and salt if needed. Serve it with more fresh parsley.
Massada de Marisco Portugal

If you liked this recipe, perhaps you might like our take on the traditional Seafood Rice, or a more simple Spaghetti with Clams! Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed this!

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