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European Peasant Cookery
by Elisabeth Luard
Marmitako (Spain)
Tunny and its smaller cousin the bonito are the prize catch of the Basque fisherman This stew is considered at its best made aboard the fishing vessel itself, using the well-flavoured tail section of the fish Mackerel is sometimes substituted The dish takes its name from the all-purpose fisherman's cooking pot - a round-bellied iron kettle
Quantity: Enough for 4 hungry Basque fishermen
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 20-25 minutes


• 1kg/2 lb fresh tuna, bonito or mackerel
• 1 large Spanish onion
• 2-4 cloves garlic
• 500g/1 lb tomatoes (tinned is fine)
• 2 green peppers
• 1 dried red pepper (de-seeded and torn)    OR 1 tsp pimentón
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 2-3 mature potatoes
• 1 glass red wine
• 600ml/1 pint fresh water
• Salt and pepper (chilli, for preference)

Utensils: A deep lidded soup pot


Skin and de-bone the fish and cut it into bite-sized chunks, salt lightly and put aside. Peel and chop the onion.  Peel and crush the garlic.  Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and skin them — or not if you don't mind those little shipwreck-spars of tomato skin. De-seed and chop the green and red peppers.

Pour the olive oil in the soup pot and put it on a medium heat.  Throw in the onions and garlic and let them fry for a few moments, till they turn opaque.  Add the peppers and let them fry.  Add the tomatoes and torn pepper or pimenton, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all is reduced to a thick sauce.

Meanwhile peel and slice the potatoes.  Add them to the stew along with the wine and water.  Bring all to the boil, turn down to simmer, lid and cook until the potatoes are soft - about 15 minutes.  Then mash a few of the potatoes into the soup to thicken it, and season with salt and pepper.  Lay the fish pieces gently in the stew Lid the pot again and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes, till the fish turns opaque.  Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve in deep soup plates and make sure there is plenty of bread on the table.  A salad and a piece of cheese — manchego or fresh queso de Burgos - to follow.  A strong red wine from RIOJA can stand up to this dish with grace.



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