Marmitako, or Basque fisherman’s stew, is traditionally made aboard fishing boats using freshly caught tuna. Nowadays, squid marmitako has become a popular variation on this classic maritime dish all along Spain’s Basque coastline.
It’s easy to see why the dish became popular on fishing outings - the base of the stew would be prepared in large quantities and the tuna (or squid) thrown in fresh off the line at the very last minute. This makes the dish a great recipe for family suppers or dinner parties too, as the stew base can be cooked up until ‘Step 7’, and then frozen or refrigerated. Then the sauce just needs reheating, and the squid adding at the last minute.
‘Marmitako’ comes from the Spanish word ‘marmita’, meaning ‘pot’. However the suffix ‘ko’, meaning ‘to or from’ in Euskera (the mysterious language of the Basques), imprints a specifically Basque cultural identity on this dish. Since its meaning is literally ‘from the pot’, it makes great sense to serve marmitako from the pot as the central piece of a meal.
The dried Spanish peppers add a real smoky depth of flavour whilst the starch from the potatoes and the onions create a rich and comforting texture. And to mop up all those juices, the squid ink soda bread complements the stew and wows guests with its charcoal appearance – yes, it is perfectly edible!
Ingredients Serves: 6
- 6 dried Spanish peppers
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 150ml olive oil
- 6 tablespoons tomato purée
- 500g fresh squid
- 600g potatoes (2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 2 mm slices)
- 800ml fish stock
- Salt to taste
- Handful of parsley, chopped
- Squid ink soda bread
- Soak the dried peppers in warm water for an hour, until soft.
- Meanwhile, lightly fry the brown onion, red onion and garlic using half the olive oil (75ml), in a casserole dish. Reduce the heat and allow to soften over a low flame with the lid on for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the peppers are soft, extract the seeds and use a knife to scrape the flesh from the skin. Extracting the seeds is easily done by running the peppers under a cold tap. Discard the seeds and skin.
- Add the flesh and tomato purée to the onion mixture. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another casserole dish fry the potatoes for 5 minutes in the remaining 75ml of olive oil.
- Add the fish stock and continue to cook the potatoes for a couple of minutes, until they’re soft.
- Add the pepper-onion mixture to the potatoes. Season to taste.
- Clean the squid by removing the cartilage and any intestines. Chop it into large chunks.
- Add the squid to the stew and continue to cook until it just starts to change colour. This can take as little as a minute depending on how hot the stew is when you throw the squid in.
- Serve the pot in the centre of the table, with a little bit of chopped parsley to garnish each portion.