Basque Fish Stew

Basque Fish Stew

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 Serves 4.
Traditionally known as marmitako, this stew always includes line-caught tuna, potatoes, garlic, onion and peppers. What else the dish should contain is the subject of many culinary competitions, yielding as many recipes as there are imaginative cooks and critics in the Basque country. That means just about everyone.


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium Anaheim chilies, seeded and thinly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock or canned broth
  • 6 to 8 saffron threads
  • 1/2 tsp. piment d'Espelette, plus more for
      garnish (Hungarian paprika may be
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed dried hot chili peppers
  • 2 lb. skinless yellowfin tuna fillets, cut into
      1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


In a large chef's skillet or other large pan over high heat, warm the 1/2 cup olive oil. Add the onions, Anaheim chilies, bay leaves and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, wine, stock, saffron and the 1/2 tsp. piment d'Espelette. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Season with salt and white pepper, add the chili peppers and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the tuna and sauté until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the tuna to the chef's skillet and continue cooking, stirringoccasionally to avoid breaking the fish apart, 8 to 10 minutes more. Season with salt and white pepper and discard the bay leaves.

Ladle the stew into warmed shallow soup bowls, and sprinkle with the parsley and piment d'Espelette. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from The Basque Kitchen, by Gerald Hirigoyen (HarperCollins, 1999).
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