Basque Country may be small in size and less known about, but its food has become increasingly popular worldwide, with France and Spain’s influence immensely prominent. Due to the mountainous and coastal terrain engulfing the place, you will find a blend of seafood, particularly cod, and inland food such as meat, vegetables, and freshwater fishes present in their cuisine. Stews and soup form an integral part of most Basque dishes seasoned in garlic and pepper for an additional flavor. So prepare any of the following lip-smacking Basque dishes, grab your favorite drink and enjoy.
Bacalao al pil-pil, one of Basque’s traditional dishes, has codfish as its main ingredient, a top favorite of the localities. Olive oil, garlic, and chili go into frying this dish, cooked until the oil forms a smooth and saucy texture called emulsion. The name ‘pil-pil’ comes from the sound produced when the fish’s skin is fried in hot oil. You can garnish it with the remaining garlic slices and some fresh chili peppers and serve it while it’s still hot.
Pintxos are a delicious Basque appetizer, which is often confused with tapas, another Spanish snack. The common ingredients include a small bread base mounted with cheese, mushrooms, fish, or any other seafood, meat, vegetables. Pintxos gets its name from the skewer or toothpick used to stack all the ingredients together. You will commonly find them served in a bar with a glass of beer or wine.
Marmitako means ‘from the pot’, the name justifying its method of preparation. It is primarily a tuna stew made in a pot, with the other ingredients being potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and pepper. This dish was a traditional fisherman’s meal though now it is common in most Basque households. You can make it a bit flavorful by garnishing it with parsley.
The rich taste of tuna blended with the sweet-sour flavor of tomato and spiciness of pepper makes the dish increasingly unique.
Alubias de Tolosa is a flavorful stew having black beans as its main ingredient, besides olive oil, salt, and onions. The inclusion of pork and blood sausage in the beans enhances the dish’s richness. The sweetness, and creamy, buttery flavor of the beans, combined with the spiciness of chilies and pepper, makes the platter a hot and sweet one.
Bacalao a la Vizcaina is another mouth-watering cod stew originating in the Basque Country’s Vizcaya province. This dish is made from dried salt codfish smeared in Viscaina sauce, a classic red dip consisting of garlic, red onions, and fresh choricero pepper paste. Though people add tomatoes to it, it is optional and not a part of the traditional dish. The overall flavor is a blend of the cod fish’s mild and sweet taste with the sauce’s spiciness and tanginess.
Merluza en salsa verde is a combination of hake fish with green sauce, and that is what its name translates to. All you need is olive oil, garlic, white wine, and some fresh parsley to prepare the sauce. Though the preparation is quite simple, you are sure to relish the taste of it. You can also add clams, some hard-boiled eggs, and peas to enhance the flavor.
Angulas a la Bilbaina is another simple dish that has baby eels as its main ingredient. Traditionally, people used a clay pot in cooking this dish, along with olive oil, garlic, and chili. A sought-after Christmas platter, it is served in earthenware bowls. Unfortunately, baby eels come with a high cost, a kilogram costing hundred euros.
Txipirones is an ideal dish for any squid lover. Its ingredients comprise whole squids and sautéed garlic, white wine, fresh vegetables, and squid ink, the latter accounting for the dark appearance. You can prepare a day in advance so that the squid becomes tender and soaks in the sauce’s flavor.
Patatas con chorizo is a classic dish of the neighboring province, La Rioja. Still, it is also commonly eaten here in the Basque country. The literal meaning is potatoes with chorizo (a pork sausage variety), explaining the contents that go into its preparation. First, the chorizo and potatoes are cooked into a stew, further thickened and flavored by the potato’s starch. Other ingredients include chorizo peppers, paprika, and bay leaf to elevate its flavor. Enjoy this tasty, hot stew during the cold months with some fresh bread.
Percebes, or as we know them as gooseneck barnacles, are some of the most expensive seafood in the world. It is cooked simply in boiling salted water but tastes delicious. You can enjoy it along with a sip of wine and a piece of bread.
Talo is a traditional flatbread made with cornflour, water, and salt. Most Basque houses ate it as their staple food. Now, it is eaten mainly during special occasions. You can enjoy the bread with various toppings like txistorra, a type of thin chorizo, or with cheese, bacon, chocolate, or honey. A glass of txakoli (Basque white wine) in the side would serve as a perfect accompaniment.
Porrusalda is a vegetable-based soup commonly consumed in many regions of Spain other than Basque. It is cooked with the white parts of leek, garlic, onions, potatoes, and carrots. You can also add some cod, pork ribs, or beef to make it more wholesome and flavorful. Sprinkle some fresh parsley and enjoy the healthy soup while it’s hot.
Ajoarriero was traditionally a mule driver’s meal that originated in the Basque Country and Navarre. It is a shredded codfish preparation combined with various vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic. It has a creamy texture and is rich in taste. Previously, clay pots were used, and the cooking was done in open air over a fire. The entire community seemed to engage in the process, with the amount of garlic depending on the diners’ number.
Chistorra is a kind of fast-cured sausages usually made from a mixture of minced pork and beef. Seasonings include salt, garlic, and paprika, the latter attributing to its bright red color. You can bake, grill, or fry them as per your wish and serve them as a side dish or add them to your favorite soup or stew to enhance the taste. A chilled glass of beer as an accompaniment won’t be bad indeed.
The Basque food is not limited to this, as there are many more delectable dishes since they are more on the list like tigres, a tasty snack. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on the delicious desserts like goxua or Basque cream, torrijas or Spanish bread pudding, and pastel vasco or Basque cake.
Best Basque Side Dishes: Pintxos, Chistorra, Talo
Authentic Basque Food: Bacalao al pil-pil , Bacalao a la Vizcaina, Angulas a la Bilbaina
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