Flavours of the sea in the Basque Country
'Al pil-pil' cod
Come and discover the flavours from the sea in the Basque Country, with its best fish recipes. We suggest visiting some of the fishing harbours and tasting the most traditional dishes.
The gastronomy in the Basque Country is has a long fishing tradition. A good way of getting to know it is visiting the harbours at lunchtime and enjoying the aroma of grilled and charcoal-grilled dish, often seasoned simply with a splash of oil, vinegar, garlic and chilli. Typical dishes in the harbours in Vizcaya Cod is one of the most distinctive types of fish in Vizcaya, and it is mainly cooked in two ways: al pil-pil and a la vizcaína. Olive oil is the main ingredient in the former, and the latter is made with a red onion and sun-dried pepper sauce. Bilbao is probably the city where cod is most traditional. In Zierbena harbour, just under 20 kilometres from Bilbao, however, restaurants and carveries serving grilled fish are very typical. A few minutes away you'll find Santurtzi, where sardines are typical, especially in summer, when there are barbecues. Another recommended place to visit is the fishing village of Bermeo, in which many restaurants specialise in fish. In Ondarroa, however, there are many canning factories with products such as anchovies and salted fish. A different fish-based dish is marmitako: It is a stew with bonito and potatoes, which can be found all along the coast.
Fish recipes in Guipúzcoa harbours Mutriku, in Guipúzcoa, is situated near Ondarroa. One of the most typical types of fish in this town is Atlantic mackerel, and to promote its consumption, a festival in its honour takes place the first Saturday in April. You'll be able to try all sorts of recipes in the restaurants in the area. Curiously enough, one of the most popular fish dishes in Guipúzcoa comes from inland, the Deba Valley. We are talking about hake with kokotxas (cheek of hake) and clam, a delicious dish made with head of hake and bonito belly. If we go along the coast we'll get to the fishing village of Getaria, one of the main producers of txakolí (a light, fruity white wine typical of the Basque Country). It is also known for its restaurants, including many carveries and those that cook fresh small cuttlefish with onion confit. Lastly, a visit to San Sebastián is a must. It is known by many as the capital of gastronomy because of the large amount of restaurants with Michelin stars, and its pintxos (typical appetisers). However, it is also known for its fish-based dishes such as txangurro (stuffed crab) and elvers. The former is made with seafood (spider crab or king crab), seasoned by the chef and with a splash of liquor. The most typical way of eating elvers in San Sebastián is fried with chilli in an earthenware bowl.