Mackerel marmitako

Mackerel marmitako

At the table

Laura Edwards

Writing a book about Basque cuisine and not including a marmitako would not be right. I love the original version with tuna, but when you make the base of the potato stew and finish with some mackerel a la plancha on top, it takes the traditional recipe to a whole different level.

Marmitako was a typical meal for the Basque fishermen and was normally cooked for when they were in their boats. The name is taken from the Spanish word marmite, meaning pot.


Quantity Ingredient
olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon choricero paste or pimenton
750g floury potatoes, peeled
500ml fresh fish or vegetable stock
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 fresh mackerel, filleted


  1. Heat a good layer of olive oil in a large pan with a lid and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes, then add the garlic, pepper slices and bay leaf. Cover and cook for 10–15 minutes until really soft. Add the choricero paste or pimentón and cook for a minute.
  2. Use the point of a knife to break the potatoes into pieces (you don’t want to chop them as you need the rough surface to make a good thick stew). Tip the potatoes into the pan and pour over the stock to cover. Season and cook with the lid on for around 20–30 minutes until the potatoes are starting to break down. Remove the lid and bubble for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Season the mackerel and rub with oil. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and fry the mackerel, skin side down, for a couple of minutes until almost cooked. Flip over for 30 seconds and then remove from the pan.
  4. Spoon the marmitako into warmed bowls, top with the mackerel and serve.
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