Are you fascinated with the mysterious Basque region in northern Spain? There’s a lot to love about this place, especially its unique form of regional Spanish cuisine. Explore delicious Basque dishes that will light up your senses and make you wish you’d been born in the Basque Country. Here are twelve mouth-watering examples of Basque food.
Basque Food & Flavours
The Basque Country is a culinary paradise, renowned for producing sophisticated meals with fresh, simple ingredients. Due to its geographical position on the Bay of Biscay and Cantabrian Sea, Basque recipes are incredibly diverse, drawing upon local sea, mountain and agricultural ingredients. Popular ingredients include fresh cod, tuna, vegetables, grains, jambon de Bayonne (Basque ham), and beef (typically grilled over hot coals).
Basque Food #1: Pintxos
Regarded by many as the quintessential Basque snack, pintxos are more than just a Basque ‘tapa’. There are countless variations of this little culinary bite (even haute cuisine creations!), but the origins of this local staple are quite humble: a small slice of bread, often topped with ingredients like anchovies, fresh salt cod, ham, goat’s cheese or fried capsicum, and speared through the centre with a toothpick. We recommend treating yourself to a pintxos feast in between sips of a cold Basque beer.
Basque Food #2: Bacalao Al Pil Pil
One of this region’s most iconic dishes, bacalao al pil-pil is delightfully simple: salt cod fish, gently sautéed in garlic, olive oil and chilli to create a creamy emulsion.
The dish is called ‘pil pil’ because of the hiss of oil as the cod skin sizzles in the frypan. Chefs recommend gently shaking the fry pan to help the emulsion along.
Another popular variant of this dish is bacalao a la Bizkaina, where the salt cod is gently fried and dressed with a sauce made of red choricero chiles, onions, garlic and tomato.
Basque Food #3: Marmitako
A hearty fish stew, marmitako literally translates to ‘pot’ or ‘casserole’ in Basque. This Basque dish is a classic symbol of old Basque Country: hearty chunks of tuna, cooked with potatoes, onions, green and red peppers, choicero (sun-dried peppers), tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.
Basque Food #4: Alubias de Tolosa
Perfect to fight off the cold weather blues, the simplest form of this robust stew consists of black beans from the Basque town of Tolosa (alubias), cooked in a broth of onions, olive oil and salt. If desired, generous helpings of pork, morcilla (blood sausage), ham and chilli can add extra flavour. Serve with traditional pickled piparras (peppers), cooked cabbage and paper-thin slices of lard for an ultra-satisfying meal.
Basque Food #5: Bacalao a la Vizcaína
Hailing from the Vizcaya province of the Basque Country, bacalao a la Vizcaína is a piece of salt cod, smothered in a sauce made of fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and roasted red peppers.
Basque Food #6: Merluza En Salsa Verde
Calling all seafood lovers: merluza en salsa verde is definitely a dish to try sooner rather than later. Translated literally as ‘hake fish in green sauce’, this traditional recipe features hake, garnished with clams and blanketed in a silky sauce made of white wine, parsley, garlic and olive oil.
Basque Food #7: Angulas A La Bilbaina
Angulas a la Bilbaina is a Basque dish, consisting of baby eels cooked in a clay pot with olive oil, garlic and chilli.
Basque Food #8: Txipirones
What is txipirones, you ask? Simple answer: It’s baby squid, cooked in its own ink, white wine and garlic. The more intricate answer is as follows: Baby squid is freshly caught off the Basque coast, brought into the kitchen, coated in flour, and fried in a sauce of onions, tomatoes, breadcrumbs and a touch of white wine. Once the sauce has cooked and reduced nicely, it is puréed and mixed with squid ink. The squid is then placed in an earthenware pot with the sauce and cooked until it’s tender and falls apart in the mouth.
Basque Food #9: Baked Txangurro
Have you ever heard of baked txangurro? This baked, stuffed spider crab from San Sebastián will haunt your dreams long after you’ve finished your last bite. Basque chefs stuff this local crustacean with onions, tomatoes, leeks, brandy and parsley, before topping it with breadcrumbs and baking it in the oven.
Basque Food #10: Pastel Vasco
Called pastel Vasco in Spanish and gâteau Basque in French, this beloved dessert can be found throughout the Basque Country in slightly different incarnations. How did the dessert win its loyal fans? Its delicious pastry — a cross between a thick, spongy cake and a pie — has a rich, cookie-like texture and encases a glorious, custard-like filling. Rum-soaked fruit (such as cherries, figs or raisins) are an optional addition to the filling. This delightful dessert goes well with a hot coffee as a Spanish-style afternoon snack.
Basque Food #11: Goxua
With origins in the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, goxua (meaning ‘sweet’) is a cold, layered dessert that sweet tooths will love. The base layer consists of sweet, whipped cream, topped with liquor-soaked sponge cake. The final layer of creamy, caramelised custard is added with a burnt-sugar crust to coat the top.
Basque Food #12: Torrijas
One of the most indulgent Basque desserts, this delicious yet simple Basque dish is similar to French toast. Torrijas is made from brioche bread soaked in milk and egg, fried in oil and smothered in a sweet, sticky syrup that has been flavoured with cinnamon and orange. With origins tracing back to the ancient Romans, this dish is often used as a replacement for meat during Lent.
Keen to try some mouth-watering and authentic traditional Spanish food right here in Brisbane? Book a table at Moda Restaurant today!