Richard Bosman’s take on shellfish cataplanas

Richard Bosman’s take on shellfish cataplanas
Richard Bosman’s cataplanas. (Photo: Richard Bosman)

We asked charcutier Richard Bosman to take part in our series in which we give chefs an opportunity to share a special recipe with us. He steps out of his meat-curing shoes and into the kitchen, where he uses a special piece of equipment.

This Portuguese fish stew is named after the vessel it is usually cooked in, a cataplana. Add an “s” and it becomes cataplanas, the seafood dish you cook in it.

If you live in the deep Karoo, you may come to see the likes of Richard Bosman as something of a messianic figure. A mysterious being from far away who makes magic with cured meats and, once in a while, sends off a carrier pigeon with some treats for you to play with in your Karoo kitchen.

Occasionally I order charcuterie from Richard, whose creations are truly special. They arrive a few days later in a polystyrene box, which is greedily unpacked. Richard and I have never met, yet I know him a little through his thoughtful way with describing what he produces, and the communications we have had every now and then are always considered, kind and courteous.

Richard Bosman at work. (Photo: Supplied)

A cataplana, he wrote when submitting his recipe, “is a special metal cooking vessel used in Portugal. It is similar to a clam shell pot and lid and is used for seafood stews. The cataplana is often brought to the table and opened, releasing a waft of fragrant aromatics. If you don’t have one of these at home, any pot with a good lid will suffice. Cataplanas is also the name of the dish.”

But he was quick to add a rider.

“Before I invoke the wrath of a nation,” Bosman writes, “this is my take on a cataplana. There are many variations and I am sure every granny in the Algarve has her own special recipe.”

By “the nation” he doesn’t mean South Africans. It’s the proud Portuguese nation he refers to, whether in Portugal itself or in one of its former colonies, such as Mozambique and Angola.

Richard developed a love of food at an early age but only really started cooking when he left home. He completed an honours degree in information systems and then pursued a career in retail, initially with Marks & Spencer and subsequently Woolworths.

In 2004 he entered the hospitality world, buying a delicatessen in Hermanus and spending five years creating a host of different menus and products and selling a range of imported cured meats. 

With the help of fleischmeister Walther Haller, he started making charcuterie at home and selling it in the delicatessen. He opened a charcuterie in Cape Town in 2009. Sourcing the finest-quality pasture-reared pork, Richard produced the first range of pasture-reared cured pork products commercially available in South Africa.

Richard and his wife Justine Seymour opened a bacon bar on Cape Town’s Bree Street in April 2015. Bacon on Bree features a menu created on bacon and a range of handmade sauces and other products. Items range from sandwiches to salads, burgers and soups, with one common ingredient: bacon. The restaurant relocated to the Oranjezicht Farm Market in 2019.  

Richard also runs charcuterie courses, teaching amateur enthusiasts to cure meats at home. During Covid he recorded an online charcuterie course which is available on Udemy.

Richard is involved in several projects exploring new ways to cure meat using vegetable extracts and bacteria. He is involved in trials in the UK as well as South Africa currently.

Richard Bosman’s cataplanas

Cataplanas in the pan. (Photo: Richard Bosman) (Serves 4)

You will need:

16 large whole prawns

800g clams in the shell

100g cooking chorizo

1 large onion, chopped

1 large red pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 dry red chilli

5g (1 tsp) smoked paprika

50ml olive oil

1 large ox heart tomato, chopped

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 litre prawn or fish stock (make this yourself as per below or use store bought)

½ cup chopped coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional prep: Prawn stock

Remove the heads from the prawns and place them in a pot. Add 1 onion, 1 chopped carrot, 5g fennel seeds, a splash of olive oil and sauté until the heads turn orange. Add 750ml white wine (use something you would serve the in-laws at a family braai), two strips of lemon zest, 250ml water, salt and pepper and simmer for an hour. Once cooked, strain the stock and discard the heads. I made mine in a pressure cooker which took 20 minutes. Just burn off the alcohol in the wine before putting the lid on. 

Cataplana prep:

Clean the veins from the prawns. 

Chop half the chorizo into small pieces.

Slice the rest of the chorizo into disks.


Mise en place. (Photo: Richard Bosman)

Once you have got your mise en place, heat the olive oil in the pot and add the small pieces of chorizo. Fry until they are crispy. Add the chopped onion and fry for 5 minutes. 

Add the red pepper, chilli pepper and garlic and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, the paprika and 500ml of prawn stock. Place the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if required. 

Add the potatoes, cover and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are just cooked. 

Add the sliced chorizo, clams and the prawns and half of the coriander. Cover and cook until the prawns are done: 10-15 minutes should do it. Give it one final check for seasoning and then serve in bowls and top with the rest of the coriander.

A decent crusty baguette is also a must to mop up the leftover juices. DM

Contact Richard Bosman at [email protected] 

On Instagram: @bosmanrichard


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