Recipe by Aitor Beitia, Portugalete, Bizkaia, Spain
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 15 minutes
Course: Soups & Stews
Cuisine: Basque
Servings: 6


  • 4 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Italian green peppers Substitute: Anaheim peppers.
  • 3 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 Tbl minced garlic (4-5 cloves)
  • 2 lbs potatoes Russet or Idaho
  • 2 lb fish head and/or bones
  • 2 Tbl salt
  • 2 Tbl pulp of Choricero peppers
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 quarts water
  • salt to taste
  • 2.5 lbs Bonito Substitute: Yellowtail or Albacore


Mise en place

  • Small chop peppers and onion
  • Peel the tomato and small chop the flesh
  • Mince the garlic
  • Peel the potatoes and cut cascada.
  • Wash any blood spots from the fish bones and cut into sections that fit in the stockpot.
  • Cut fish into 1.5 inch square pieces and salt on all sides.

Make the Stock

  • Place the fish head and bones in 4 quarts of water.
  • Add 2 Tbl salt and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes, skimming off the resulting foam.
  • Strain the stock through a fine sieve to remove all the bones and ugly bits. Keep strained stock warm.

Make the Vegetable base

  • In a large pot, sweat garlic, peppers, tomato and onions in 4 Tbl olive oil on medium heat until soft.
  • Add Choricero pulp to the vegetables and stir.
  • Add white wine and 4 cups of the strained stock and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Blend the base to a smooth puree. Add salt to taste.

[Optional stopping point. Sauce and stock can be stored and rewarmed to complete the meal.]

    Assemble the Stew

    • On medium heat, add the potatoes into the vegetable base, stir, and then cover with the remaining stock by 1 inch.
    • As the liquid is absorbed, add more stock.
    • Repeat until the potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes).
    • Remove from heat and add the salted pieces of fish. Stir gently and allow the heat of the stew to cook the fish for 5 minutes and then serve.


    The fish stock and vegetable base can be made a day in advance.
    The ideal fish for this dish is Bonito del Norte (Thunnus alalunga) from the coast of the Cantabrian Sea. Although not super common in US markets, there are three species of Bonito found in Mexican waters: striped bonito, Pacific bonito and Atlantic bonito. If you can’t find bonito, use Yellowtail or Albacore.
    You can skip the step of making stock from the bones if you have access to high-quality fish stock. Promise me that you won't try the dish with store-bought boxed or canned fish stock. You will never know the magic of Marmitako if you do.
    Jamie Kelly is an American marketing professional turned gastronaut. She is eating her way through a full-spectrum exploration of food culture in Spanish-speaking lands and staging ambitious re-enactments of her finds in her own kitchen. To join the expedition, follow at FB: gastro-curious, IG: jamie_gastrocurious and