Tuna, Pepper & Potato Stew

1 Oct

Rachel is half Spanish Basque, so every now and again I like to cook a dish from her heritage, and this is one of her favourites. In Spain this Basque dish is called Marmitako, and was traditionally made by bonito fishermen while at sea. The ingredients and the method of cooking are simple; potatoes, peppers and tuna fish stewed in olive oil. Something that can be knocked up on a galley stove, but the result is truly spectacular. It is deliciously rich and oily and a superb dish to keep out the cold.
Serves 2 Prep 10mins Cooking 40mins.

  • 400g tuna fish, de-boned, skined and cut into chunks
  • 150ml Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 green peppers de-seeded and chopped
  • 500g waxy potatoes peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • salt to taste if necessary
  • 3 tblsp home made Red Pepper Paste
  • 1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika

Heat a large cast iron pan, add the oil, onions and peppers and sautee over a low heat until they start to soften. Cut the potatoes into long quaters to make more of a virtue of them, they cook more slowly and somehow have a better taste than if cut into small pieces. Add the potatoes fry gently for a few minutes then add the pepper paste, paprika and enough water to cover and cook for 30mins. In another skillet fry the tuna pieces in a little olive oil until sealed and starting to brown. Transfer to the potato and pepper stew and cook for a further 1Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the bonito and cook for 10 minutes more. Check the seasoning and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: This recipe came from The Heritage of Spanish Cooking – Alicia Rios and Lourdes March. The original recipe calls for 2 dried red peppers, soaked for 12 hours and then pureed and a much greater ratio of fish, twice the amount of fish to potato. But as we are land lubbers and tuna is expensive I have used more potato. I have also used pepper paste and paprika instead of dried peppers, long green medium chillis instead of sweet green peppers, which makes it spicier, but otherwise the dish remains true to its simple origins.

Cook’s Tip Dried red peppers can be difficult to come by which is one reason i use pepper paste instead. I make my own but you can make a quick verison of pepper paste by mashing up a jar of preserved red peppers and adding some chilli or paprika powder to taste

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